Yom Kippur- Tess Scheflan- 28.9.09
Bicycles in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur, September 28, 2009 Photo by Tess Scheflan
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Israel Police have been holding talks with Israeli Arab representatives in bid to diffuse tensions ahead of Yom Kippur, after the burning of an Upper-Galilee mosque earlier this week. Police hope that calm will be restored in time for Yom Kippur on Saturday.

Police have also been meeting with the Arab sector in mixed Jewish and Arab towns throughout Israel to prevent the recurrence of an incident similar to what took place in Acre on Yom Kippur three years ago, when clashes erupted between Arab and Jewish residents.

Security forces sealed off the West Bank on Thursday at midnight, and the blockade will last for 48 hours until Yom Kippur at midnight. The blockade can only be lifted for humanitarian or medical reasons and with the permission of the civil administration.

The Taba border crossing and the Yitzhak Rabin and Jordan River border crossings to Jordan will shut down at noon on Friday and reopen on Saturday at 9 P.M. The Allenby terminal will close at 11 A.M.

Air traffic to and from Israel will halt from 1 P.M. on Friday to 9:30 P.M. on Saturday and the border crossings to Jordan and Gaza will close down. The weather forecast bodes well for fasters, with comfortable temperatures.

Public opinion surveys over the past few years show most Jews in Israel observe Yom Kippur. A survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2009 found 26 percent of Israeli Jews who describe themselves as "secular" or "not religious" fast on Yom Kippur and 24 percent of them have attended prayers at a synagogue.

A number of organizations will be holding mass prayers, intended for people who do not frequent synagogues on a regular basis, as part of a custom developed in the past years.