Authorities complete preparations for Yom Kippur as nation set to slow to a halt
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Authorities complete preparations for Yom Kippur as nation set to slow to a halt

Police and paramedics to spread out in force as country’s roads and services about to shut down for 25-hour Day of Atonement; IDF enacts enacts closure on West Bank, Gaza

Israelis ride their bicycles along the empty Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, on Yom Kippur, September 19, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash 90)
File: Israelis ride their bicycles along the empty Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, on Yom Kippur, September 19, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

Authorities were completing their preparations for Yom Kippur on Tuesday, as Israel was set to slow down to a halt for the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Public transportation was to end services in the early afternoon, and roads were expected to largely clear of cars by early evening as is the national tradition — to be replaced with multitudes of people on bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles.

Driving during the Jewish Day of Atonement is considered taboo, and many secular Israelis have turned the day into a biking holiday, taking advantage of the car-free roads.

For religious and traditional Jews, the 25-hour period of fasting and praying was set to to begin at 5:40 p.m. in Jerusalem and 5:55 p.m. in Tel Aviv. It will end on Wednesday at 6:51 p.m. and 6:53 p.m. respectively.

Police and medical services will spread out in high capacity throughout the country. Magen David Adom paramedics respond to thousands of emergency calls on Yom Kippur every year: these include bicycle accidents, individuals made ill by the fast, young children hurt while left unattended outside synagogues and pregnant women gone into labor, among other cases.

Ben Gurion International Airport will end services shortly after noon, to be resumed Wednesday night; television and radio broadcasts will also enter a daylong hiatus.

The Israeli army implemented a closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Monday night — preventing any but humanitarian cases entering Israeli territory — as is routine policy during holidays, which are considered a particularly sensitive time.

In Jerusalem police will be on high alert in the area of the Old City to prevent friction as many thousands of Jewish worshipers flock to the Western Wall for prayers.

On Monday night tens of thousands took part in penitential prayers at the Wall.

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