It was a very warm summer night and the line of large SUVs idling on the side of the street spewed off clouds of hot exhaust as their drivers sat waiting inside with the motors and air conditioning running.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, was hosting US presidential candidate Barak Obama for dinner. I don’t remember where I was coming home from late at night, but I took the shortcut down Smolenskin Street past #9, walking past the Israeli Prime Minister’s official residence on the street corner of Balfour Street.
For over four years, I have wanted to write about how the levels of security have increased. With the events of the past week now is finally the time.
The walls around the Old City of Jerusalem were for security. The Tower of David was used for defense until 1918 when the British first used the Citadel for cultural, not military purposes.
These ‘dragon teeth,’ the bollards of yesteryear, were collected from various locations and placed across from Gan Haaztzmaut, Independence Park.
One remains on Agron Street, but this photo is from a post four years ago, shared when writing about security for a Presidential Trump visit.
Also four years ago, I was able to get one photo of the then new black curtain put up near the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence.
Year by year in Jerusalem new levels of security have been put in place.
Not only near the Prime Minister’s Residence but four years ago at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, a new security screen was added to block the view from the street.
Today there are bollards and a new security entrance, and guards.
It may seem like ages ago, but the security for the January 2020 visit of the 49 world leaders for the Holocaust Remembrance took weeks to assemble.
The increased security near the Kotel, Western Wall is well known.
Two years ago, the security for the official visit of Vice-President Mike Pence was extraordinary!
More than once this past year, security was increased at the gates of Old City due to the coronavirus lockdowns and distance limitations.
There have been antigovernmental protests for months. The Saturday night events are loud and large and go long past noise time restriction limits.
However, last Shabbat protesters crossed a new line.
The main protest area near the Prime Minister’s Residence is across the street from Paris Square. It has been occupied for months by day as well the Saturday night noisy mega-events.
They are near this entrance to the street of the Prime Minister’s Residence.
This was a view of Smolenskin Street on Friday January 8, 2021.
The next morning on Shabbat, a van like this one blocked the street. Multiple border police officers were positioned there to make sure the demonstrators did not break through and get close to the building again.
By Friday, a new layer of security was added on Balfour Street.
Anyone needing a minyan of ten men to say kaddish could have tried here, as there was at least ten security personnel on hand.
Sorry, no photos of Shabbat, still no Shabbat camera.
However, Sunday morning the gate was open enough to get a peak inside.
It’s been a while since these simple barriers were used for the Prime Minister’s official security.
Now that type is used to warn of a bad spot in the sidewalk.
These are the new security barriers found around the neighborhood.
Solid and heavy, more each week, I will not bore you with dozens of photos.
But to leave you today on a more positive note, these barriers were used at a new art installation being prepared off Safra Square.
These are on top of the new National Library. I am obsessed with work on the roof throughout the past COVID-19 shutdowns and slowdown of this year. In the future, I plan to share more on the amazing project.
In Jerusalem this week, the scene at the US capitol was a quiet one.
The windows were open for fresh air at the Dan Panorama Hotel where travelers have been quarantined after arriving from overseas.
Roses are still in bloom in the winter sunshine and warm weather.
A great time to get out and explore, within a kilometer of home of course, the real Jerusalem streets.