Hurva shul in Old City
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Police commander Dudi Cohen
Photo: Uri Porat
A historic rededication amid high tensions in Jerusalem. The Hurva Synagogue in the Old City will be rededicated Monday. Police have been placed on high alert.
In light of declarations made by senior Palestinian leaders calling to "ignite the area" and the hundreds of celebrators coming to the synagogue's opening ceremony, Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen ordered thousands of police and Border Guard officers to be deployed throughout the city. The defense establishment decided already on Saturday to extend the closure imposed on the West Bank on Friday. It also ordered the cancellation of a thousands-strong rightist march around the Temple Mount.
Hundreds of people are slated to attend the synagogue's event in the Old City's Jewish Quarter, including Israel's chief rabbis, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Housing Minister Ariel Atias, and senior officials from the right-wing parties.
Following a briefing on police preparations for the event, Police Commissioner Cohen said that he "expects all participants to show responsibility in moderating statements likely to bring about an unnecessary escalation in the city."
"Extremist and inflammatory statements do not reflect the factual situation on the ground," said Cohen. Despite this, his forces are deployed throughout the city and "are prepared to deal with any possible scenario." The police commissioner put his trust in the officers and police in the field, saying that they will know how to display "patience, forbearing, and when necessary, determination in the face of rioters" with the goal of "allowing freedom of religious worship and a regular routine in Jerusalem."
The closure imposed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the West Bank on Friday was extended due to the heightened tensions and calls made by Palestinian Authority officials "to ignite the area."
Accordingly, only male Muslim worshippers above the age of 50 and in possession of an Israeli identity card will be allowed into the Temple Mount complex. Entry for female worshippers will be allowed at all ages.
In order to minimize friction between the two religions on the Temple Mount, the police decided to cancel a right-wing marched "around the gates of the Temple Mount" planned for Tuesday. Thousands of people were slated to partake in the march. Rightist officials were outraged by the cancellation. Similar marches, during which participants sing and dance around the complex and stop to pray at each gate, have been held on the first of the Hebrew month for nine years running.
"It is a shame that instead of doing everything so that this important march can go on as planned, the police prefer a hostile approach and cancellation. The police's job is to protect citizens of the State, and not to succumb to threats made by Arab rioters," said Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union).