JERUSALEM (Jan. 1)
President Zalman Shazar today told leaders of the Christian communities that he hopes that the visit next week of Pope Paul VI would, bring peace and understanding.
The President, who on New Year’s day received the heads of Israel’s Christian communities, said that “hope has been planted in the hearts of many by the Ecumenical Council in Rome.” He voiced the hope that the Pope’s historic pilgrimage would “mark the opening of a new period characterized by growing closeness and understanding among churches and religious communities.”
(In Rome, the Vatican’s radio station, broadcasting in many languages, reported President Shazar’s remarks to its worldwide audiences.)
Meanwhile, here, security arrangements for the Pope’s visit were completed today by Yehouda Prag, assistant inspector-general of police, who is in charge of “Operation Shalom”–the code name given the special preparations for guarding the Pope.
“Operation Shalom,” it was revealed, will consist of three separate squadrons of Israeli police supplemented by security personnel from other branches of the Israeli service. One squadron will guard the area in the north, including Nazareth, and the surrounding regions. Nazareth is virtually an all-Arab city. There, and in the environ, the squadron will be on the alert against any possible manifestation by Communists.
The second squadron will concentrate on Jerusalem, guarding particularly Mount Zion and the Mandelbaum Gate area. The Pontiff will leave Israel for Jordan via the Gate. The third squadron will accompany the Pope’s convoy and entourage from the moment the Pontiff enters Israel until he leaves. The Pope’s visit to Israel, according to the detailed police schedule, is expected to take exactly 11 hours and 50 minutes.
More than 400 of the 800 foreign journalists accredited to cover the visit next week of Pope Paul VI, have already arrived in Israel, it was reported here today. Some of the journalists will arrive with the Papal party when it crosses into Israel at Megiddo, and, according to the Jordanian press, they will be permitted by the Jordanian authorities to re-enter Jordan at the Mandelbaum Gate when the Pope crosses into the Old City.