Shimon Peres' Funeral: One of the Largest and Most Complex Events Ever to Be Held in Israel

Israeli security branches will cooperate to provide security and public order, as scores of international dignitaries will arrive in next two days to pay their respects to Shimon Peres.

Shimon Peres.
Shimon Peres.Credit: Reuters

The state funeral of former President Shimon Peres, which will be attended by United States President Barack Obama and scores of other world leaders, will be one of the largest and most complex events ever held in Israel.

A massive operation, integrating the Israel Police, the Border Police, the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service, government ministries and other state bodies, will ensure security, deal with traffic arrangements and maintain public order during Peres' lying-in-state at the Knesset and funeral at Mount Herzl on Friday.

Culture Minister Miri Regev, who heads the Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies, said on Wednesday that the country was “gearing up for a very large and complex funeral."

"Facing us is a complex event that requires extraordinary coordination between all institutions. We must treat it as a well-planned operation," Regev said.

According to protocol, Israeli flags in all government institution and military and police bases were lowered to half-mast on Wednesday and will remain that way until after the funeral.

The coffin of the country's ninth president will lie in state in the Knesset plaza from Thursday morning for both dignitaries and the public to pay their respects. It will leave the Knesset for the Mount Herzl national cemetery on Friday morning.

At 8:45 A.M. on Thursday, President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuri Edelstein will lay wreaths at the coffin in the Knesset plaza.

From 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. on Thursday, the plaza will be open to members of the public who wish to pay their respects to Shimon Peres.

At 8:30 A.M. on Friday, the coffin will leave the Knesset for Mount Herzl, where a memorial ceremony, including eulogies, will begin at 9:30 A.M.

Following the memorial ceremony, the coffin will proceed to the "Great Leaders of the Nation" burial plot, where the official funeral ceremony is scheduled to begin at 12:00 P.M.

Attendance at the burial itself will be limited, at the request of the Peres Center for Peace. But all those present at Mount Herzl will be able to watch the ceremony on large screens.

In addition to Obama, the national leaders and dignitaries who are expected to attend the funeral include French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German President Joachim Gauck, Charles, the Prince of Wales, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Togo President Faure Gnassingbé, European Union President Donald Tusk, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Australian Governor General Peter Cosgrove, representatives of the Jordanian government and representatives of the Egyptian government.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich on Wednesday described the police operation as, "very complex and in many ways unprecedented compared to what the police have accomplished in the past. It's a huge challenge as regards security, traffic, public order and different intelligence and technological interfaces."

Alsheich added that he saw the role of the police as being "to enable the appropriate ceremony for a man of his standing and not to interfere with it; not what determines the agenda, but what enables it and to enable every last citizen to pass by the coffin."

"We're talking about guests coming from abroad and we understand the level of coordination that is needed," Alsheich said. "Each one needs to receive the appropriate treatment."

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