Jerusalem on high alert ahead of holidays
Two terror attacks in past 7 days, claiming lives of 3 Israelis in total, coupled with expected heightened tensions during the holidays period, lead security forces to raise level of alert in the capital; senior police official: 'There is fear of copycats. Gaza also impacts Jerusalem events.'
The two terror attacks in the past seven days in Mevo Dotan and Jerusalem's Old City, which claimed the lives of three Israelis in total, naturally put defense forces across the country on high alert ahead of the coming Passover holiday, but doubly so in the capital.
In Jerusalem, this heightened level of alert is manifested in the increased deployment of Border Police and police forces in the Old City, where many Israelis as well as tourists will spend some of the upcoming Passover holiday.
"The defense establishment realizes that the cluster of events we are facing may be highly combustible. We're on the precipice of Passover, two memorial days and Independence Day, but before we even get there we're facing Land Day at the end of this month," said a senior police source.
"These events are further compounded by the government's push to open the US Embassy on May 14. Then there's Nakba Day and the month of Ramadan and the call on Gaza civilians to march on the border. We know the Gaza Strip influences activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem," the source added.
Last weekend, Lieutenant Ziv Daus and Sergeant Netanel Kahalani were murdered in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank's Mevo Dotan. Earlier this week, Adiel Kolman was murdered in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.
Commander of the Israel Police's David Sub-District, Maj.-Gen. Haim Shmueli, said after the two attacks, "We held quite a few situation assessments at the Jerusalem District in anticipation of the holidays, and we are ruling nothing out. Unfortunately, there is a multitude of alerts and we are increasing deployment accordingly."
Months before her arrival in Israel, Bladon uploaded a photo of al-Aqsa Mosque to her Facebook profile with the caption, "Security here is very tight, so there's nothing to worry about at the moment."
The senior police official stressed that the defense establishment was dealing with lone-wolf terrorism, which is exceedingly difficult to prevent. "The terrorist who carried out the Old City attack this week had no organizational affiliation," he said. "The terrorist who ran over the soldier and officer in Samaria also made a split second decision."
"These two events at this point in time can cause more lone-wolves to go out and carry out attacks. There's also the fear of copycats that characterized similar such occurrences in the past," the police official said, adding that the high level of alert was expressed mostly in situation assessments and briefings.
"Other districts will be called in to provide security for Jerusalem during the holiday. The same instructions we receive then go out to forces in the field. It's being made clear to them how problematic this time period can be," he concluded.