Jerusalem District Police and other security personnel gathered at various areas around the Western Wall around midnight Monday night, sealing off all entrances to the plaza where pious Jews are known to pray at all hours of the day and night.
The move came in advance of the upcoming Jewish high holy days, and as part of the national security defense drill that officially starts throughout the country on Tuesday. It’s just easier to carry out security drills at midnight at the Western Wall — and thereby avoid worldwide panic — because that’s when almost no one else is around. At least, that’s when the tourists aren’t around. And Israelis are used to security drills.
“All the entrances and exits in and out of the Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza have been closed off, hermetically sealed,” complained one resident of the Old City who asked on an internet chat if anyone else knew what was going on. “Some kind of operation is underway,” another answered. A second writer said a security exercise was taking place at the Western Wall and surrounds. Within a very few minutes, however, it was all over and the human traffic was flowing freely through the ancient alleyways once more.
On Tuesday, Israel’s Home Front Command begins a national security exercise for the entire country. Red Alert air raid sirens will activate at various times throughout the country, depending on where in Israel the reader lives. Each community will have two opportunities to “practice” making a beeline for one’s safe space or bomb shelter, once in the morning and once in the evening.
The IDF urges each citizen to participate in the exercise and take the opportunity to become familiar with the routine of accessing your safe space and the issues involved in getting there, and staying there.
Readers are advised to check the Home Front Command website to determine what time your Red Alert activation is set to begin. To find out more about the exercise, and to access the Home Front Command site, click here.
Hana Levi Julian