Accessibility links

Breaking News

Israel on High Security Alert During Yom Kippur - 2003-10-05

Israel's security services have gone on high alert for possible Palestinian terror attacks as the country marks Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Israel's army and police are on guard as the country is at a standstill for Yom Kippur, the Day of the Atonement.

Government offices, businesses and public transport ceased operating at sunset on Sunday for the most sacred and somber day of the year.

Ports and border crossings are also closed, and flights in and out of the country will not resume until after dusk on Monday.

Yom Kippur is the climax of what is known as the High Holy Days, when Jews are taught that each soul is weighed by God.

"I think that we it really means to us [Jews] is that God expects human beings to be responsible for their actions, and in that way he judges us for what we have done," said Jerusalem-based Rabbi Rueven Hammer, who has written a new book on the High Holy Days.

This year the day fell after a Palestinian suicide bombing in the port city of Haifa that killed at least 19 people, including four children, one of them a baby girl.

In response, Israeli warplanes struck at a suspected training base for Palestinian militants in Syria.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, when hostile Arab states launched military strikes against Israel as the nation's citizens were engaged in fasting and prayer.

Official memorial services marking the anniversary are to be held on Tuesday, in memory of those Israelis who fell during the war.