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Thousands of people visited national parks and nature reserves Tuesday during the Passover holiday, but wintry weather conditions meant fewer visitors arrived than tourism authorities had hoped.

Particularly popular were sites close to the center of the country, such as Haifa's Carmel mountain ridge and Carmel beach, the Caesarea ruins and Jerusalem.

Uzi Barzilai, director of the Marketing and Tourism Branch of the Nature and Parks Authority, said, "the tourists woke up later than usual following the Seder evening, and started on their way."

A significant number of tourists also visited the historical sites of Masada and Qumran on the Dead Sea.

On Tuesday, festivals are being held in national parks, and free events held by Bank Hapoalim around the country are expected to draw large crowds.

Jewish National Fund foresters say that a lower of volume of tourists is to be expected, in light of the wintry and muddy conditions prevailing in the north.

Still, in hotels and bed and breakfasts in the north, occupancy is nearly full.

Police raise alert levels for Passover holidayPolice forces increased alert levels on Monday, ahead of the Passover holiday and said it will reinforce its presence throughout the week.

Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi ordered his forces and volunteers to increase their presence in public places, such as synagogues, shopping centers, markets, hotels, and public transportation. In addition, Border Police will reinforce the Green Line, separating Israel from the West Bank.

Security sources said Sunday that they are aware of 70 terror warnings, most of them general warnings. In addition, police said they would concentrate on criminal activity during the holiday, mostly burglaries, and traffic police would increase their presence on roads nationwide.

Israel Prisons Service said that 100 rabbis will hold Passover seders for over 5,000 inmates, while more than 700 inmates will be temporarily released to their homes to celebrate the holiday with their families.