3,500 police officers participating in massive security operation
JERUSALEM – More than 3,500 police officers are participating in a massive, nearly unprecedented security operation to bar Arab non-residents of Jerusalem’s Old City from entering the ancient walled city for the next 48 hours, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed in a radio interview Sunday.
“We’re dealing at the moment with a wave of terror, I would call it. We’re being very careful with ongoing security assessments,” Rosenfeld said on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” speaking live from the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Following a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks in and near the Old City in the last 24 hours, the Israeli government took the highly unusual step of only permitting entry into the Old City to “Israeli citizens, Old City residents, tourists, Old City business owners and pupils learning there,” according to a Jerusalem police statement.
The measure is being described in Israeli media as “unprecedented.”
Rosenfeld confirmed the Old City is entirely closed to all Arab residents of Israel who live outside the city.
The move comes as thousands of Jews are entering the Old City to pray at the Western Wall during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, a day at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles celebrating the giving of the Torah.
Rosenfeld said that earlier Sunday 12 potential suspects were removed from Temple Mount area, with police fearing the Arabs were planning to target Jews in the area.
Also earlier on Sunday, in the second such incident in 24 hours, a terrorist stabbed a 15-year-old outside of a gas station near the Old City in Jerusalem, moderately wounding the teenager. The attacker fled the scene and was shot and killed by police while stalking a main thoroughfare with a large knife.
On Saturday, a horrific scene unfolded at the entrance to Jerusalem’s walled Old City, where a Palestinian terrorist murdered two Israeli males and injured a 22-year-old woman, along with her two-year-old baby.
An Israeli police spokesperson said the jihadist, identified as 19-year-old law student Mohand Halabi from Ramallah, first stabbed the father of the baby and stole the man’s legally-owned gun, utilizing the weapon to shoot indiscriminately at a group of nearby tourists.
The terrorist also stabbed the first man’s wife and another man numerous times before opening fire on pedestrians nearby. The rampage took place just outside the Lion’s Gate, one of seven open gates in Jerusalem’s Old City walls.
The police here say two men were killed in the attack; a woman in her 40s was in serious condition; and a two-year-old toddler suffered light wounds.
One of the murdered men was identified as being part of the same family as the woman and baby, and according to reports all three were on their way to pray at the Western Wall, a retaining wall at the periphery of the Temple Mount.
“Two Israeli men were stabbed at the same site. Horrific, absolutely horrific. Police units responded at the scene after a 22-year-old woman, who was the wife of one of the men who were murdered, in fact ran down the road and quickly made contact with police officers who rushed to the scene, identified the terrorist still with a knife in his hand and he was shot and killed at the scene.”
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