In the video: The preparation of the Jerusalem District Police for the month of Ramadan (Israel Police Spokesperson)
With the beginning of the month of Ramadan, the Jerusalem Police are preparing in record preparation for waves of tens of thousands of visitors that will flood the city from tomorrow (Thursday) until April 21.
At the center of the sensitive hearing will be the district commander Superintendent Doron Turgeman.
Along with Turgeman's dealing with the sequence of sensitive events that are included in the holiday, he is expected to be caught up in another confrontation with Minister-in-Charge Itamar Ben Gabir - who may intervene in the district's management policy in the police response to the expected violations of order on the Temple Mount and in the east of the city.
As early as this coming Friday, tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers from all over Israel and the territories are expected to go to the Temple Mount for the noon prayer, some of them will stay for the evening prayers and the end of the fast, and will repeat themselves at least four times in the coming month.
Within two weeks they will be joined by tens of thousands of Jewish visitors for the Passover holiday and at the end, the Christian Easter holiday will be celebrated with thousands of visitors to the churches in the Old City.
To regulate hundreds of thousands of visitors in a very limited radius, sometimes in a parallel period of time and to prevent friction between the sectors, the police are preparing to manage a crowd whose purpose is to separate the populations, by regulating the Muslim and Jewish visitors on different routes of arrival.
The Muslims from the Nablus Gate through the Street of the Guy to the Temple Mount and at the same time, the Jewish visitors and tourists through the Jaffa Gate and the Ashupot Gate.
on several fronts.
Superintendent Doron Turgeman, commander of the Jerusalem District, and Commissioner Shabtai (Photo: Flash 90, Olivier Fitosi)
Last week, Minister Ben Gabir held a preparatory meeting with the police in which he was presented with the operational plans for the month of Ramadan and the spring holidays, and at the end of it, the Minister approved the plans.
But it is not clear how the minister will conduct himself and act in front of the police and the district commander in the coming month.
This, after in the last two months Ben Gabir confronted the ousted Tel Aviv district commander and the commissioner and attacked the former's conduct in regards to the management of the protests against the legal reform when he made it clear that the district he is leading will be managed according to his understanding. A signal of the expected tensions with the Jerusalem district commander has
arisen At the last command staff meeting, where the commissioner made it clear to his subordinates that any approach to them from the minister's side should go through him.
Ben Gvir, for his part, indicated yesterday to senior police officers the limits of the decree: "This week begins the month of Ramadan, and I have no doubt that we know and understand that holiday joy is very welcome, but nationalistic harm, incitement, terrorism against Jews are a red line that must be thwarted."
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"Incitement and terrorism against Jews - are a red line."
Rioters on the Temple Mount, April 22 (Photo: Reuters)
Superintendent Turgeman already received a reprimand call and a public censure last month for what seems a minor matter in retrospect, the management of the protests against the legal reform that were held near the Prime Minister's house, to the chagrin of the minister who wanted a more forceful response to the protestors.
"The Jerusalem police have lost control over the anarchists," said Ben Gabvir at the time, and now, if something goes wrong, and dozens or hundreds of Palestinians riot and confront the police forces on the Temple Mount - Turgeman may meet face to face, day after day, Ben Gabvir who will ask to supervise On what is being done closely, and to clarify his policy as part of his role as Minister of National Security.
Any reduction and impairment of the hours and conditions for Jews to ascend the mountain during the month of Ramadan, which have already been approved by the police for most of the days of Ramadan, may draw criticism from the right on Ben Gabir who is sure not to refrain from pointing his arrows at the Jerusalem Police and its head.
A change in Jewish prayer times will draw criticism from the right.
Ben Gabir (Photo: Reuven Castro)
"Any attempt to compare the Jerusalem district to the other districts is not serious," explained one of its retired commanders about the work of the district and its challenges.
"Besides the usual challenges of the districts in the police, the Jerusalem district has political and international aspects in almost every decision of the district commander, add to that the fact that it is a capital city and there are all kinds of factors that keep an eye on it, such as the Palestinian Authority, and on top of all that there are the holy places that constitute a kind of constant threat, For an explosion that starts there and may develop far beyond Jerusalem and beyond the State of Israel. And at the top - the Temple Mount, holy to Muslims, holy to Jews as well as Christians."
The former officer emphasized the religious sensitivity of the time and said that "the month of Ramadan is something that if you don't know Islam, and the conduct in Jerusalem, you don't understand how special and sensitive this month is. There is a very broad religious awakening in this month and there are parties who enjoy combining politics and nationalism in All this and it's very dangerous. Because when people are already on edge, because of the religious awakening, and to that you add the frustration on the part of the Arabs of East Jerusalem and the territories, in addition to the growing and deep hatred for the State of Israel and Judaism - it's very, very problematic."
"The police are under attack"
According to him, one of the causes of those tensions is the fact that "the Arab street has no real leadership and the ones who set the tone are the young people. And they do whatever they want. They set fire to the street at their will, the Temple Mount at their will and go on rampages and at their will they carry out terrorist attacks. In front of all this is the Jerusalem district and the one who stands An answer should be given in the head."
"I, as a district commander, did not allow anyone to interfere, according to the law of course, I determined that I am completely independent, whatever happens in the Jerusalem district and especially in Ramadan and I did not allow anyone to interfere in my considerations. Right now we are in a situation where the police are under a very severe and very dangerous attack and we will feel it During Ramadan," he said and attacked the Minister of National Security: the person who is supposedly in charge of internal security is an extremist and irresponsible person, he does not understand anything about police and security issues and he will try to force the police to act in accordance with his policy and I hope that the district commander will do what he needs according to his discretion the professional and will leave politics aside."
Jews at the entrance to the Temple Mount, May 2022 (photo: official website, Arnon Segal)
Another superintendent who commanded the district believes that Superintendent Turgeman will act according to his conscience and reject the pressures that Ben Gabir might direct towards him.
"Doron is an honest man, a professional and a field man, not one who warms chairs, if he recognizes that there is a need to use force he will not hesitate and use it, but if he sees that there is no need for a response and the field calms down even without intervention from the police, he will take a step back," he said.
"Ben Gabir will probably sit on his vein and pressure him already on the first day of Ramadan, but he will repel him elegantly or in a less refined way. Otherwise, alas for all of us, in the end the full responsibility for everything that happens in the mountain in this house is written on him, right, there is a commissioner, A political rank, but he is the sheriff, for better or for worse, he will not let anyone interfere in his territory, even if he is invited to ten reprimand calls.
With all due respect to Ben Gavir, he should not interfere and should take a step back,
Why is the police stationed on the Temple Mount?
In the days preceding the month of Ramadan, more than ten residents of East Jerusalem went into administrative detention and dozens more received warning calls by security officials.
What they all have in common is that they are identified as agitators in East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
In front of these actions and many more that are being carried out on the intelligence and political level, stand a series of terrorist organizations led by Hamas that will do everything to incite and destroy the order and routine on the Temple Mount, among other things to enthuse the Arabs of Israel, the territories and the world and paint Israel as the one that harms the holy places of Islam.
Last year, in a rather rare fashion, the police arrested more than 400 Palestinians who barricaded themselves and rioted on the Temple Mount after the morning prayer on the first Friday of the month of Ramadan, a move that resulted in a reduction in the number of rioters during the frictions later in the month.
Most of those involved in the riots on the Temple Mount last year were identified as Arabs from North and East Jerusalem, most of them used to spend the night in the Temple Mount mosques at night and during the day, when early in the morning they started throwing stones at the police forces stationed on the Mount and sometimes at the Western Wall Square, and later on barricading themselves in mosques and throwing objects from there.
As part of the use of measures to disperse demonstrations last year, the police added another tool for dispersing the rioters in the form of tear gas drones, an effective tool according to police sources for dispersing crowds with minimal friction with the police forces.
Passover in the capital
All this will be joined by dozens of Temple Mount activists every year who will try to go up to the site on Passover Eve equipped with clothes in order to sacrifice them, as part of the holiday's mitzvot, which is considered quite a headache for the police who succeed in thwarting these initiatives time and time again.
Shabbat of light
Another event with a higher friction potential this year will be the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
As part of the ceremony, a fire is spontaneously lit in the tomb complex and later is transferred to other churches in Israel and the world.
On April 15 in the morning, thousands of Christian believers will fill the Church of the Sepulcher complex, the nearby alleys and rooftops, and tens of millions more will watch the live broadcasts of the most important and holiest ceremony in the Christian calendar.
The police are troubled by disagreements between the currents that lead the ceremony every year and there is a fear that by Shabbat Ha'or, an outline will not be reached between the communities regarding the number of participants in the ceremony from each community, and in addition to this, there are clashes that broke out last year between the police forces and the pilgrims who asked to enter and were refused, this due to security arrangements.
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Itamar Ben Gvir