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High alert among Israeli security forces as tense Ramadan season begins

First small-scale clashes between worshipers and police on Temple Mount

Israel Border Police guard at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, April 20, 2022 (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Small-scale scuffles broke out between police and several worshippers at the entrance to the Temple Mount on Sunday evening, as thousands flocked to the Al Aqsa Mosque to mark the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Saudi Arabian authorities declared that Ramadan would begin on Sunday evening after the crescent moon heralding the sacred month was sighted. Muslims in Israel and the West Bank followed the Saudi lead, while in neighboring Jordan, the holy month will begin on Monday night.

On Sunday evening, the Taraweeh, a special prayer only held during Ramadan, saw some violent scuffles between the reinforced Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and several young men who were prevented from entering the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.

Police Chief Kobi Shabtai had said earlier that young Arab men were the main “agitators” and should be banned from entering the Temple Mount during Ramadan.

Last Friday before Ramadan, some 20,000 worshippers arrived from all over the country – including the Galilee, Wadi Ara, and the Negev – to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, Ynet News reported.

The number of worshipers is expected to swell to several tens of thousands during the month of Ramadan, especially on Fridays. Israel Police will reinforce its troops in Jerusalem during the coming month with hundreds of additional officers and volunteers to secure and facilitate the movement of the thousands of people through the narrow alleys of the Old City.

During the Friday prayers, special police units will reportedly be prepared to respond to extreme events such as a scenario of a police officer being kidnapped into the compound, according to Ynet News.

Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman stressed: “We understand that Ramadan is completely different regarding its challenges and threats and also from the discussion around it even before it started. In the end, you have to feel the pulse on the Mount.”

The IDF’s Central Command and the Judea and Samaria Regional Division also went on high alert ahead of Ramadan,

The Israeli military has deployed 23 army battalions and another 20 Border Police agencies, in addition to thousands of soldiers who have been protecting the settlements in Judea and Samaria since the beginning of the war last October.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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