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Israel police on high alert ahead of public prayer called by far-right minister

September 27, 2023 at 4:59 pm

An Israeli policeman places a metallic barrier across a road linking the east Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Beit Hanina with west Jerusalem before the start of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), on September 24, 2023 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli police are on high alert ahead of a mass public prayer called by far-right Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, in Tel Aviv on Thursday, Anadolu Agency reports.

The prayer will be held amid tension in the wake of Monday’s clashes between Israelis marking the Yom Kippur holiday, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

The violence occurred when a Jewish Orthodox group tried to set up barriers to separate male worshippers from females in a prayer service marking the Yom Kippur holiday, triggering clashes with secularists.

According to public broadcaster, KAN, the police are prepared for all possible scenarios, including the eruption of new clashes between Israelis during the prayer.

Following the violence, Ben-Gvir called on his supporters to gather on Thursday in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff area for a gender segregated public prayer.

“I say to those anarchists who tried to get rid of the worshippers on Yom Kippur that I and my colleagues in Otzma Yehudit are coming to the same spot this Thursday to pray the evening service. Let’s see you try to get rid of us,” he said.

On Friday, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a decision by Tel Aviv municipality to ban gender segregated prayers from taking place in public places in the city.

The tension over the gender segregated prayers is seen as part of the ongoing divisions in Israel over a government plan for judicial overhaul, seen by the opposition as a power grab.

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