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Photo: Gil Yohanan

Police on high alert ahead of Passover, Israel 60 celebrations

Security forces step-up counterterrorism efforts throughout coming months, though police urge Israelis to 'go out and celebrate.' In Sderot, many fear Passover seder will be ruined

Police have raised their alert level throughout the country on Wednesday ahead of the Passover holiday and a series of events related to Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations.


The defense establishment cites nine specific alerts based on intelligence information warning of viable terror plots. This in addition to dozens of general warnings.


These will result in closures on the West Bank, due in part to the threats of retaliation against Israel for the recent assassination of senior Hizbullah commander Imad Mugniyah in Damascus.


Thousands of police officers, Border Guard officers and Civil Guard volunteers are being dispatched throughout the country, while Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen cancelled all the vacations and trainings toward the effort.


Jerusalem expects tens of thousands of tourists (Photo: Ron Peled)


The deployment is centered around three main areas, from the Seam Line to the area surrounding Jerusalem and into major cities and population centers.


“I urge the Israeli people to go out and celebrate. We’re working hard so that Israeli citizens can do so with a strong sense of security,” head of operations at the National Police Headquarters, Major General Yoram Ochayon, told ynet.


Ochayon added that the hotel occupancy in Jerusalem is nearing 100%, and that tens of thousands of visitors from Israel and abroad are touring the capital. “We are prepared around festivals, parks and nature attractions.”


Once Passover is over, police will begin preparations for the Holocaust Remembrance Day events and ceremonies, which will be followed by the memorial day for the fallen IDF soldiers. Numerous events will take place on the eve of Independence Day – the major one being the ‘Lighting up Israel’s Skies’ project by the Ministerial Committee marking 60 years of independence, starting in the northern Carmel area and down to the southern town of Dimona.


Police forces are also preparing for the arrival of 20 heads of state to Israel, including US president George W. Bush, for a conference hosted by President Shimon Peres


Sderot: Seder under fire

Over 30 Qassams landed in Israel on Wednesday, and Sderot residents fear the current tensions will only increase as the holiday season nears.


"It's only two days till the seder and we still don't know where we'll be celebrating," said Sderot resident Einav Zubiv. "We thought about celebrating the holiday together, about 40 of us in Sderot in an unfortified

house, but now things aren't that simple anymore."


Zubiv said that beyond media reports regarding the current situation in Gaza, her impression from officers and friends in the IDF that tensions are unlikely to abate.


"A lot of people would like to celebrate Passover outside Sderot, but they have no place to go."


פרסום ראשון: 04.16.08, 14:04
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