Israel on high alert
Israel shut off the Palestinian territories for the holy Jewish day of atonement and went on alert for possible attack, 34 years after Syria and Egypt launched a surprise assault that sparked war.
The security measures blocked thousands of Palestinians who wanted to cross from the occupied West Bank to pray in Jerusalem on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, AFP reported. "In light of the significant terror threat during the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday and according to the decision of the defence minister a general closure will be implemented in (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip," the army said.
The closure came into effect overnight and is scheduled to be lifted at midnight (2200 GMT) on Saturday.
The closure, routinely imposed for Israeli public holidays, means that Palestinians living in the West Bank cannot come to Israel or occupied east Jerusalem even if they ordinarily have permits to do so. The lockdown for the holiest day in the Jewish calendar prevents Muslim faithful living in the West Bank from being able to pray at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
From early morning, thousands of would-be worshippers with Israeli permits descended on the main Qalandiya checkpoint on the road from the West Bank town of Ramallah to Jerusalem, hoping to be allowed to cross as last week.
Police have heightened their alert to level three, one short of the maximum level reserved for times of war, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Thousands of officers and auxilliary forces were deployed on Friday around markets and public places, and protective measures around synagogues were being increased out of fear of attack, police said.
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