Israel Police prepared to hit the highest level of alert– essentially signifying a state of war - Thursday night, as preparations for Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's funeral continued in Cairo and Ramallah.
Police said that at 6 a.m. Friday the force will go on Operation Alert Level D – the last time used two years ago prior to America's invasion of Iraq and following threats made by Saddam Hussein that he will launch missiles against Israel.
Under the new alert level, all members of the Israel Police will be called up for active duty, including cadets and policemen currently on vacation.
Police said that their biggest concern is that the tens of thousands of Palestinians who flock to mosques for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan will begin to riot and may attempt to breach military checkpoints and enter Israel.
Arafat's funeral is scheduled to take place at around the same time that Palestinian worshippers flock to the Temple Mount and other mosques for
On Thursday police raised the level of alert to level C. One scenario police have discussed is the possibility that thousands of Palestinians will grab Arafat's body and begin to march towards Jerusalem for burial on the Temple Mount.
Senior police officers said they have given orders to officers in the field to "give Palestinians room and to try to avoid confronting with them when it is not necessary."
Police chief Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi ordered district commanders to step up security operations and to increase police presence in heavily-populated areas with an emphasis on Jerusalem and its surroundings.
The Prisons Service also went on high alert and special elite units were deployed to different security detention centers to prepare for possible
riots among the some 4,000 Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails. Guards were ordered to avoid contact with the prisoners and to give them room to mourn their leader.
Internal Security Ministry Gideon Ezra cut short a trip in Europe to return to Israel to oversee police preparations for Arafat's funeral.
Meanwhile Thursday, a group of settlers from northern Samaria were detained for questioning after they allegedly punctured the tires of Palestinian vehicles near the village of Silat A-Dahar. No one was injured in the incident.