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Israelis Celebrate Passover Under Tight Security

Israelis are celebrating the weeklong biblical holiday of Passover under tight security.

Israelis gathered for the festive Passover seder meal, recounting the Exodus from Egypt more than 3,400 years ago.

Israel is on a maximum state of alert. Police say they have intelligence information that Palestinian militants are planning attacks to mar the holiday. Thousands of police and soldiers are deployed at synagogues, parks, and hotels.

A resident of the town of Beit Shemesh near Jerusalem, David Katz, is taking it in stride.

"We have to go on living and functioning and we all conduct our lives normally, but of course, there is extra concern," he told VOA. "We see the extra security on the streets, but we all continue to go about with our daily affairs."

But everyone here remembers Passover four years ago, when a suicide bomber blew up a seder and killed 29 people.

"It is all etched into our memories and minds and it is sort of been reflective: We celebrate the holiday which is the freedom of [from] our slavery and bondage, but the battles continue unfortunately. We look forward to the day when there will be peace and freedom for all of us," added Katz.

In an effort to prevent terrorist attacks, the Israeli army has sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians in those areas are barred from entering the country.