Police boost presence in capital for final Friday prayers of Ramadan

Some 3,000 policemen deployed in Jerusalem, particularly around Temple Mount ahead of Quds Day; Islamic Jihad threatens Israel

Israeli police officers guard in Jerusalem Old City, during Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on April 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israeli police officers guard in Jerusalem Old City, during Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on April 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Nearing the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, police said Thursday they would boost deployment in Jerusalem with around 3,000 officers ahead of Ramadan’s last Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The day is also known among Palestinians as Quds Day, a day of solidarity initiated by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Troops will spread out across Jerusalem’s Old City and the main roads leading to the Temple Mount compound, police said.

“Routine security will be reinforced and police activity will be expanded alongside main roads in order to provide fast response to any scenario and optimal services to the public. As such, the Israel Police will continue to take action to maintain public order, prevent and investigate criminal activity in any form and redirect transportation as necessary,” police said in a statement.

The statement noted that the following streets in Jerusalem’s Old City and East Jerusalem will be blocked between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday: Sultan Suleiman Street, Wadi al-Joz Street, Jericho Road, Shmuel Ben Adaya Street, Haofel Road, Nablus Road, Salah Al-Din Street, Ma’alot Ir David Street, Pierre Van Paassen Street and Naomi Kiss Street.

Also Thursday, the Islamic Jihad terror group’s armed wing threatened Israel by showing off footage of the organization’s Jenin aerial drones in a propaganda clip.

In a video released by the terror group ahead of Quds Day, marked on Friday, a Jenin drone could be seen dropping an explosive device on an Israeli military jeep in an incident that took place in September 2019.

“The enemy should think carefully and reflect: What are our drones like today, and how are their capabilities three years after that operation?” said Abu Hamza, a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad’s military wing.

Iran initiated Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, in 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution. It commemorates the day with anti-Israel speeches, events and threats to “liberate” Jerusalem from Israeli control.

The threat and the reinforced police presence in Jerusalem come amid heightened tensions in the capital and following regular clashes between police and Palestinian rioters at the Temple Mount throughout April, as Muslims marked Ramadan and Jews celebrated Passover.

On Wednesday night, over 100,000 Muslim worshipers took part in mass prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the Muslim holiday of Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny), marking the day Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Muhammad.

Thousands of police were deployed to Jerusalem’s Old City ahead of the prayers, with no unusual incidents reported.

Muslim worshippers pray on Laylat al-Qadr, Night of Destiny, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, on April 27, 2022. (Hazem Bader/AFP)

Jordan, which oversees the flashpoint site via its control of the Waqf Islamic endowment that administers the compound, has been sharply and repeatedly critical in recent weeks of the behavior of Israeli security forces atop the Temple Mount.

Jordan has accused Israel of violating the status quo at the site, under which Muslims are allowed to visit and pray while Jews cannot pray and may only visit during restricted time slots.

Police have said they would bar non-Muslims from visiting the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound from Friday until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on May 1 in order to reduce tensions and potential clashes — a policy that has been in place for years.

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