The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is an extremely busy one at the Kotel (Western Wall), with crowds gathering every night for the recitation of selihot penitential prayers said at this time of year to ask for forgiveness and Heavenly blessings for a better year.
On Thursday night, a selihot service led by Tzfat (Safed) Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is scheduled to be held – but in the wake of the violence in recent days in Jerusalem, many Jews who would have attended are apparently staying home.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) calls this situation “unacceptable,” and in a letter to police, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and the Prime Minister's Office, he demanded Thursday a sharp increase in security personnel at the Kotel and the paths leading to it.
“An independent country cannot allow a situation where its citizens are afraid to come to its capital to pray,” Smotrich wrote. “The highest level of security must be provided for Israelis who come to pray at the Kotel.”
Smotrich also called on Israelis not to panic, but to come to the Kotel on Thursday night. “Especially on this night, right before Yom Kippur, it is important to come to this holy place. Tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers is the appropriate response to the wild terrorists who seek to attack us.”
On Sunday, Arabs began rioting and attacking Jewish visitors and police officers at the Temple Mount. The attacks continued throughout the holiday, and expanded to other parts of the city. The violence included the murder of Alexander Levlovitz (64) on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in an attack by Arab terrorists, after a rock slamming through his car's window made him lose control of the vehicle and crash.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of the cabinet at the end of the holiday on Tuesday night to discuss plans to stem the unrest. Netanyahu said that he would draw up “new standards” of punishment for rock throwers.