Security Forces on Alert Ahead of Flag March


Israeli border police officers patrol in the Old City of Yerushalayim, Friday. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israeli security forces are on high alert ahead of Sunday’s flag march, with additional mobile shelters deployed to cities in the south, and an increase in police presence in Yerushalayim and other mixed Jewish-Arab cities.

While the IDF is still unsure if the flag march on Yerushalayim Day will pass quietly, the IDF has deployed additional mobile bomb shelters, including in Sderot, in case terror groups from the Gaza Strip fire rockets toward the south.

The IDF later clarified that the additional bomb shelters were placed in the south not because of Yerushalayim Day, but as part of a pre-planned deployment by the Home Front Command in an attempt to fortify the south.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai ordered a high alert in Yerushalayim, including deploying 3,000 additional police officers to Yerushalayim and hundreds more to mixed cities.

The decision on Wednesday, taken in conjunction with the Shin Bet, comes as both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have threatened to launch rockets, warning Israel against allowing Jews to “storm” the Al Aqsa Mosque compound during the flag march.

The groups said in a statement after an emergency meeting that this would be a barrel of dynamite to ignite the entire region.

“Jerusalem and the holy sites are a red line,” the statement read. “Our people, with their resistance and forces… will use all options to defend our people and holy sites against Zionist assaults.”

They called on Palestinians to “defend the lands and holy sites,” urging them to take to the streets carrying Palestinian flags and to clash with Israeli security forces.

The U.S. Embassy in Israel also issued an alert to citizens and embassy employees, warning them to refrain from entering the Old City at any time on Sunday, and on Friday when there is a higher turnout for prayer on Har HaBayis.

“Due to ongoing tensions and potential security issues in the Old City of Jerusalem, the following restrictions on U.S. government employees and their families remain in effect until Monday, May 30,” the alert said. “Damascus Gate will continue to remain off-limits after May 29 until further notice.”

The embassy also warned citizens to treat every alert of an incoming rocket as real and to seek shelter immediately.

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