From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 12, 2005 4:41 Updated Aug. 13, 2005 18:49 By JUDY SIEGEL ITZKOVICH AND JPOST STAFF ...
Traditional observances of Tisha Be'av, which will begin after Shabbat, are expected to take on an added sense of loss for some this year, coming as they do just ahead of the planned evacuation of thousands of settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. Thousands of Jews even more than in previous years - are expected to arrive at the Western Wall later Saturday. This year's Tisha Be'av observance has taken special significance as it coincides with the final hours before the initiation of the evacuation of Jewish settlements from Gaza.
Turnout at the Western Wall this year is expected to be higher than usual, as opponents of the disengagement – which is scheduled to begin on Monday – view it as their last chance for heavenly supplication before settlers are evacuated. Security will be even tighter than usual.
Police have positioned thousands of officers throughout the Old City and limited the age of Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount in an attempt to prevent conflict between Jewish and Moslem worshipers, a police spokesman said.
Muslim clerics have called on their followers to go to Jerusalem to protect the mosques. As a result, police decided to limit the age of Muslim worshippers to men over 45, said Shmuel Ben-Ruby, Jerusalem police spokesman. Women of all ages will be allowed to attend prayer services in the Al-Aksa mosque, he added.
As is customary on Tisha Be'av, observant Jews will refrain from eating and drinking from 10 minutes before sunset on Saturday until 7:52 p.m. (in Jerusalem) on Sunday. On Saturday night, worshipers will walk to synagogue for the evening service in slippers or other footwear not made from leather, as a signof mourning.
Thousands will go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the remnant of the outer wall of the Second Temple, and sit on the floorto read the Book of Lamentations and recite dirges. Many people are expected to be at the Wall throughout the duration of the fast, whichculminates with the evening service on Sunday night, after which light refreshments will be available.
Magen David Adom ambulances and medics will be on hand in large numbers to treat people who faint or feel unwell.
On Sunday, government offices, banks and other facilities – especially those in Jerusalem and other cities and towns with many observant workers – will have reduced operations or be closed.
After Tisha Be'av, though, many religious families who have observed a three-week period of ritual mourning for the Temple are expected to go on vacation, with whole hotels at the Dead Sea, in Tiberias and other locations reserved for the religious sector. However, some national-religious families who oppose the disengagement plan reportedly are canceling their post-Tisha Be'av vacation plans out of sympathy for the evacuees.