Police, MDA on High Alert over Yom Kippur

Medic, police patrols to increase throughout Israel ahead of joint Jewish and Muslim holidays.

Tova Dvorin,

Border Policeman
Border Policeman
Flash 90

Israel's public and emergency services are being prepared for the possibility of a tumultuous day, ahead of the upcoming Yom Kippur fast as well as the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha. 

Magen David Adom (MDA) medics are on high alert, preparing for the inevitable onslaught of injuries from cyclists, emergency calls from pregnant women, and incidents of dehydration on the annual 25-hour fast. 

Thousands of people are in need of medical treatment every year, MDA noted - prompting the organization to be on its highest alert level from Friday morning to Saturday night, according to MDA Director Eli Bin.

"Every year, MDA provides lifesaving treatment to patients all over the country, who suffer from dehydration or are injured while riding their bicycles, during the fast," Bin said.

"This year, while many people pray in synagogues, MDA staff will be out saving lives," he added, noting that MDA ambulances and ambucycles will be patrolling the streets of Israel's major cities throughout the holiday. Two helicopters will also be on patrol for potential airlifts. 

Pre-fast guidelines

MDA has advised all Jews fasting Friday night through Saturday to drink at least a liter and a half of water before the holiday, and cut back on caffeine and drinks with high sugar content as the fast approaches. In addition, they recommend fasters to abstain completely from salty foods in the 24 hours before the holiday begins to avoid dehydration. 

During the meal before the fast, it is recommended to combine all food groups - complex carbohydrates with protein and vegetables - which create a feeling of fullness for longer.

All fasters have been advised to drink more water if they plan on traveling during the fast, and to stay indoors in an air-conditioned area for as long as possible; temperatures could reach as high as 28C (82F) on Saturday in some areas. 

MDA recommends that the elderly and pregnant women consult a doctor before fasting, as well as patients with kidney failure, heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy, thyroid issues, and cancer.

In any event, they stressed, any fasting person who experiences extreme dehydration, chest pain, excessive sweating or difficulty breathing, is urged to call 101 (or United Hatzalah's number, 110) for emergency medical assistance. 

Police on high alert

Police and defense officials, too, are preparing for the holiday, Walla! News reports Friday - mindful of the uprisings in Jerusalem and in predominantly Arab neighborhoods of Israel that often see rioting during prominent Muslim holidays, after an upswing of violence during this year's Ramadan. 

Palestinian Arabs will be restricted from leaving Judea and Samaria for a 48-hour period, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announced Thursday night - from Friday morning to Saturday evening. Similar moves have been made ahead of other times of expected unrest, usually ahead of Jewish and Muslim holidays. 

Police and Border Police patrols will also increase, especially in mixed cities, according to the daily - with an especially high police presence at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem's Old City.

In preparation for Eid al Adha, police have been dispatched throughout Muslim areas of the Old City and in alleyways in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. 

Checkpoints have been set up along major roads near Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods, as well, in anticipation of further rioting and unrest during both holidays. All travelers seeking to visit the Temple Mount during Eid al-Adha have been instructed to take a handful of predetermined routes, which will be monitored by police throughout the weekend.




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