Amidst surmounting tensions, attacks, and the recent deaths of two IDF soldiers, Israeli police were deployed across Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday with thousands of people expected to attend the traditional priestly blessing event at the Western Wall.
Each year, Jewish pilgrims make their way to the Western Wall on the intermediate days of the Passover and Sukkot festivals, with crowds of men and women entering the area that is known to spark tensions with Palestinians.
As it stands, the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is revered as the location of both ancient Jewish temples. The compound, which now houses the Dome of the Rock Shrine and the Al Aqsa Mosque, is Islam’s third holiest site and a frequent flashpoint of violence.
To avoid these clashes, hundreds of police and Border Police were deployed in the Old City to secure access routes to the event and the many visitors who were expected to the Old City during the day.
The West Bank has seen a surge in violence in recent months, particularly in its north. Palestinian gunmen have targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.