Ahead of the state funeral for former President Shimon Peres on Friday, Israeli security forces are ramping up operations to secure the event. With world leaders including President Obama and former President Bill Clinton expected to attend, Israeli police and internal security agencies are taking every precaution – including preemptive arrests of people they have deemed potential troublemakers.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday evening, Israeli Police Chief Roni Alshich discussed the preparations underway for what is expected to be the grandest state funeral since Nelson Mandela’s in 2013.
During the press conference Alshich revealed that a number of right-wing Jewish activists and Arabs had been arrested over the past day, as part of efforts to ensure that the funeral runs smoothly – and safely.
“For security purposes for what will be happening in the next 24 hours and coming days, we assessed all the possible threats to the event and sources of threats,” Alshich said.
“That could mean threats or provocations [as well as terror] and we’ve also carried out preemptive arrests in specific cases for this event we’re now preparing for.”
Alshich played down the arrests, noting that the number of people taken into custody was small.
“These aren’t large numbers. We’re talking now about a very small number of people that we have identified as posing a possible threat or who could create provocations [during the funeral].”
According to a report by Channel 2, the arrestees include three Jewish activists from around the country.
“There may be surprises,” Alshich said, “and we’re prepared for those surprises. It is an unprecedented event in its scope. There are no specific warnings or information [on specific threats]. We are preparing for everything – terror attacks or provocations. Of course we’re not sealing it off hermetically, but we need to have a good response prepared.”
The state funeral for President Peres will take Friday morning at Har Herzl in Jerusalem.