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Israel marks Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

The majority of Israel’s Jewish population began fasting this evening in observance of the of Yom Kippur Day of Atonement, which is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

As part of necessary security arrangements, the IDF announced a general closure on all Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and the crossings to the Gaza Strip. The closure will be lifted, and the crossings will be reopened, tomorrow at midnight. The only permitted entry will be granted in humanitarian, medical and other emergency cases.

Additional Border Police and other security forces have been deployed to the Jerusalem area and patrols have been increased at points of friction, particularly in areas along the seamline. Flights at the Ben Gurion International Airport ceased at 01:50 pm today, and will resume operations tomorrow night at 10:30 pm.

Ahead of Yom Kippur, Orthodox and religious Jews performed  traditional rituals, which they believe replaced the Biblical sacrifices at the Temples, including the waving of chickens over their heads, as well as emptying their pockets into water streams, to symbolically atone for any sins committed over the past year. The chicken-custom is called ‘Kapparot,’ involving a passing of their sins to the bird. According to Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Worshipper Haim Gobioff: “Every year before Yom Kippur, during these ten days of repentance that we are currently in, we have the opportunity to transfer many of our sins so to speak after a thorough repentance onto either a chicken or onto money, give it to charity, and with that we’ll atone for much through a proper repentance, and that’s what’s going right behind me.”

Along Israel’s Mediterranean shoreline, scores of ultra-Orthodox and religious Jews performed ceremonies called ‘Tashlich,’ where people empty their pockets into a running source of water, symbolically casting their sins out to the sea. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Worshipper Saggi Laria explained: “We need to throw our sins to the sea.”