Israelis queue up to pay respects in front of coffin of Shimon Peres at the plaza outside the Knesset, on September 29, 2016Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israelis queued all day to pay their last respects to Shimon Peres

Israeli police have made several arrests as a huge security operation swings into action ahead of Friday’s funeral for former prime minister and president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.

Israeli police chief Roni Alsheikh said preventative arrests were carried out on Arab and Jewish suspects who it was feared might disrupt the ceremony.

World leaders including US President Barack Obama are due to attend.

The body of Mr Peres has been lying in state outside parliament.

Mr Alsheikh told reporters that there were no specific threats to the funeral but police were prepared for any incident.

“We are dealing with an operation on an unprecedented scale,” he said.

The funeral is expected to be the largest such event in Israel since the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish nationalist in 1995.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Peres’ coffin was draped in the Israeli flag

Mr Peres suffered a stroke two weeks ago and died on Wednesday, aged 93, in a hospital near Tel Aviv.

Thousands of Israelis passed by his coffin outside the Knesset (parliament) throughout Thursday to pay their respects.

Israeli leaders including President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also placed wreaths in a solemn ceremony.

Former US President Bill Clinton flew into Tel Aviv on Thursday and travelled directly to the Knesset to pay his respects.

Media captionShimon Peres, the last of Israel’s founding fathers, spoke to the BBC’s Lyse Doucet just before his 90th birthday

Mr Clinton helped to broker the 1993 Oslo peace accords for which Mr Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year along with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he also plans to attend the funeral along with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and security chief Majid Faraj.

Other leaders set to attend include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.


Who was Shimon Peres?

  • Born in 1923 in Wisniew, Poland, now Vishnyeva, Belarus
  • First elected to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in 1959
  • Served in 12 governments, including once as president and twice as prime minister
  • Seen as a hawk in his early years, when he negotiated arms deals for the fledgling nation
  • In 1996 he ordered the so-called Operation Grapes of Wrath operation against Beirut in retaliation for Lebanese Hezbollah’s escalated rocket fire on northern Israel. The bombing campaign killed and injured hundreds of civilians
  • A member of the government that approved the building of Jewish settlements on occupied territory, but came to view their future as negotiable
  • Played a key part in reaching the Oslo peace accords, the first deal between Israel and the Palestinians, which said they would “strive to live in peaceful coexistence”

Source: BBC