Israel Places IDF Forces on High Alert Ahead of Passover

Heightened security in place all over the country ahead of Easter and Passover; IDF closes off crossing points to and from West Bank.

Israel placed its forces on high alert Friday, ahead of the week-long Passover festival which begins at sunset, and Easter celebrations in Jerusalem.

Heightened security was in place all over the country, a police spokesman said, with the emphasis on public places, and a large police presence in the Old City of Jerusalem, the focal point of Easter commemorations in the Holy Land.

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He said the alert was at its second highest level, but noted that this was the same level as in previous years.

The Israeli military also closed off crossing points to and from the West Bank until Saturday night. However, a military statement said Israel has allowed 500 of the Gaza Strip's tiny Christian community to enter Israel or the West Bank, and has authorized permits into Israel for 20,000 West Bank Christians.

Thousands of Jewish and Christian pilgrims, meanwhile, are expected to flock to Jerusalem, to celebrate their respective holy days.

Christian pilgrims will participate in the traditional procession along the Via Dolorosa in the Old City, which traces Christ's final journey to his crucifixion.
And Jewish pilgrims will congregate at the Western Wall at sundown, to usher in Passover, which commemorates the biblical exodus from Egypt.