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Yom Kippur: Israel Locks Up for Safety

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The Jewish holy dayYom Kippur begins at Sunset on Friday and ends at nightfall on Saturday. Israel began closing it’s gates to the surrounding Palestinian territories to prepare for the 48-hour solemn observance.A military spokesman told AFP that crossings were closed from midnight Thursday and would reopen at midnight on Saturday.

Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It’s central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. It follows closely the observance of Rosh Hoshanah.

Israel closes it’s border due to the increased risk of attack during the ancient religious holiday, when large numbers of Jews congregate. During that time all work, traffic, and TV and radio broadcasts will cease and public transport will stop running. Israel’s airspace will be closed, according to public radio. Seaports and land borders with Jordan and Egypt will also shut down.

In the northern port city of Haifa, senior police officers met with Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau and Greek-Catholic Melkite Archbishop Elias Shakur to coordinate efforts aimed at preventing trouble, including re-routing or postponing Christian parades, news website Ynet reported. Samri said that restrictions would be imposed on Muslims attending Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound, for reasons unconnected with Yom Kippur following repeated clashes there with stone-throwing Palestinians over the past week.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said officers in mixed Arab-Jewish cities would seek to prevent friction between Christians celebrating the feast of the Holy Cross on Saturday and their fasting Jewish neighbours.

“There’s intelligence information of the intention by Arabs to disturb the peace at today’s prayers on Temple Mount,” she told AFP using the name by which Israel refers to the compound housing the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques. It is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Jews venerate the same location as the site of biblical Jewish temples and it is a regular tension fire for clashes.

Samri said that entry to men would be limited to those aged 45 and over who hold a Jerusalem residence permit, but women would be subject to no restrictions.

Image via wikipedia commons

Yom Kippur: Israel Locks Up for Safety
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