Israel shuts down for Yom Kippur; security forces on high alert amid terror threats

People ride their bicycles and walk along the empty road in Jerusalem, on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and the holiest of Jewish holidays, October 4, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** יום כיפור כיפורים רחוב ריק רחובות ריקים אופניים ירושלים כביש ערב

Israel shut down beginning Tuesday afternoon for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, as security forces remained on high alert for the holiday amid a spike in terror warnings.

All flights in and out of Ben Gurion airport ceased at 2:00 p.m on Tuesday. The airport will reopen Wednesday night with arrivals starting at 10:30 p.m., while departures will resume an hour later. During this period Israel’s air space is also closed to flights passing through.

Border crossings were also shut and will reopen late Wednesday.

“For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” Leviticus 16:30

Trains stopped operating at 1:00 p.m. and will only resume on Thursday morning, as inner-city buses and inter-city transport also halted their routes starting at 2:00 p.m. They will gradually restart Wednesday evening.

As sundown approached, all local radio and television broadcasts also gradually fell silent.

Roads will largely clear of cars by early Tuesday evening as is the national tradition — to be replaced with multitudes of people on bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles. Driving during the Jewish Day of Atonement is considered taboo, and many secular Israelis have turned the day into a biking holiday, taking advantage of the car-free roads.

For religious and traditional Jews, the 25-hour period of fasting and praying is set to begin at 5:45 p.m. in Jerusalem and 6:01 p.m. in Tel Aviv. It will end on Wednesday at 6:55 p.m. and 6:57 p.m., respectively.

Meanwhile, security and rescue services will remain on high alert throughout the day. The IDF will also impose a closure on the West Bank and Gaza, a standard practice over Jewish and Israeli holidays.

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