Jerusalem Police on Thursday completed their preparations for the first Friday of Ramadan, the holiday observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, with a special focus on the Temple Mount.
Police are on especially high alert following Wednesday night's shooting attack in central Tel Aviv. District Police Commander Yoram Halevy will lead thousands of officers as they deploy across the Old City and eastern Jerusalem during every Friday of the Ramadan month.
It is estimated that tens of thousands of Muslims will attend Friday’s prayers and police want to prevent any violence.
Earlier on Thursday, Israel rescinded some 83,000 entry permits given to Arabs from Judea and Samaria for Ramadan. Goodwill gestures to Gaza Arabs, including travel permits to Jerusalem to participate in Ramadan prayers on the Temple Mount, have also been rescinded.
Due to the anticipated mass presence of worshipers, the following roads will be closed Friday for all traffic between 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.: Sultan Suleiman Street, Wadi al-Joz, Derech Yericho, Derech A-Tur, Shmuel Ben Adaya, and Derech HaOfel.
The following roads will be blocked on Friday between 12 noon to 5 p.m.: Sderot Hayim Barlev from Clermont-Ganneau Street and heading southbound (traffic will be diverted to the Levi Eshcol Tunnel), Derech Hevron from Miriam HaHashmonait Street heading northbound (traffic will be diverted to Derech Beit Lehem, HaTsanhanim Street and Kheil ha-Handasa Street)
Jewish Quarter residents will be able to reach their homes through Jaffa Gate.
Police are also preparing for the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost), as celebrations of the Jewish holiday begin Saturday night with prayers taking place at the Kotel (Western Wall), just next to the Temple area.
In order to ensure the safety of the general public and to prevent congestion in the alleys of the Old City, it was decided not to allow Kotel worshipers to enter through Damascus Gate, beginning in the early evening hours of Saturday until 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, or to exit the Old City through Hagai Street. During those times, security forces will conduct operational assessments of the area.
While police apologized for any inconvenience, they stressed that their goal is to prevent any confrontation between Arab Ramadan worshipers and Jewish Shavuot celebrants.