Hotels across the country are being directed to ramp up security over concerns of a repeat of the 2002 Park Hotel massacre in Netanya.
By Itsik Saban, Efrat Forsher, Israel Hayom via JNS
The Israel Police have directed hotels across the country to ramp up security ahead of the Passover seder, which this year falls on the second Friday of Ramadan. Amid the tense security situation in the country, there is concern that terrorist organizations are planning a repeat of the 2002 Passover bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 people were killed and 140 wounded.
In addition to hotels, police have also directed local authority leaders and the proprietors of recreational venues to increase security and remain on increased alert throughout the nine-day holiday. Police districts across the country will be reinforced by police academy recruits, as well as 1,300 soldiers loaned out to the police by the Israel Defense Forces to contend with the tense security situation.
Jerusalem District Police are also on high alert ahead of the gathering of thousands of worshipers at the Western Wall to attend a special priestly blessing during the Passover holiday. Christian worshippers are also expected to hold processions throughout the Old City, culminating in a pre-Easter Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Around 3,000 officers have been tasked with securing the city, which is set to see between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of visitors in the coming weeks.
Police official Shlomi Toledano stressed on Tuesday, however, that there was currently no specific intelligence regarding planned attacks.
“I call on citizens to go out and have a good time,” said Toledano. “Every call to the police hotline will be handled. I hope the holiday will pass peacefully. When the public enjoys itself, the police officers are on alert.”
“A majority of Muslims want the holiday to pass quietly,” he added.
Also on Tuesday, the deputy leader of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, Kamal al-Khatib, issued a warning after the Temple Mount Faithful Movement offered a cash prize to anyone who succeeds in performing a ritual Passover sacrifice at the site on Friday.
Such a sacrifice “at al-Aqsa would be highly dangerous and pose blatant injury to Muslim sentiments. Likewise, this would be a substantial leap in the arrogance of the occupation government,” said Al-Khatib.
He said the Israeli government had clearly not learned its lesson, “and all this incitement and harassment of the Al-Aqsa mosque will lead to an escalation and pour oil on the fire.”
The Palestinian people would not accept the violation of the Al-Aqsa mosque, Ramadan and the sanctity of Friday, he added.
“Every escalation against Al-Aqsa in the coming days is not the responsibility of the Naftali Bennett government,” said al-Khatib, but rather of its supporters in the Islamist Ra’am party “led by Mansour Abbas, without which this government would not exist.”
The Hamas terrorist organization’s political bureau also warned against the move on Twitter, saying the “settlers’ attempts to invade Al-Aqsa” and make sacrifices in its courtyards were tantamount to “playing with fire.”
Michel Makhoul contributed to this report.