Policing can present a seemingly endless number of challenges, not least when you are patrolling one of the world’s most contentious cities. BRAD MARSHALL brings his latest report from Israel.

GARBED in a shawl from head to foot, only the woman’s eyes are visible through a small slit in her head covering.

As she approaches one of the three guarded entrances to the Western Wall, the most holy site in the Jewish faith, her behaviour and attire is recognised as suspicious by one of the hundreds officers on patrol in the mile-square Temple Mount quarter of Jerusalem.

Officers concerned by their inability to discern whether the woman is carrying explosives, a gun or knife, due to her clothing, order her to stop.

The woman continues to walk forward.

Tensions mount. A warning shot is fired into the air and officers repeat their instruction to stop. But still the woman approaches.

After issuing their third and final warning officers take aim at the woman and fire at her leg propelling her to the ground.

This is just the latest incident faced by the members of the Israeli National Police (INP) in Jerusalem, who daily battle to maintain law and order in one of the most sensitive and contentious regions of the globe.

After being detained it transpired that the woman was not a terrorist but a member of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community, who do not speak to men, attempting to pray at the Western Wall.

However, violence has wracked Jerusalem countless times, bringing it to the brink of chaos more than once in living memory; most prominently during the periods of the First and Second Intifada ­— two Palestinian uprisings against Israel met with heavy force.

Since 2015 more than 300 attacks have been perpetrated inside Israel, including knife, vehicle and gun attacks, as well as a horrific combination of the three. Many more have been foiled.

Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, the spokesperson of the INP, speaking, during a recent press delegation to Israel attended by the Bury Times, said: “The responsibilities on the shoulders of the Israeli National Police is to deal with every kind of incident that happens inside Israel. As soon as there is any major incident that happens inside the borders of Israel our officers in blue are the first units to respond.”

He added: “The fact it is quiet today in Israel is due to the fact that we arrested 12 potential suspects[last night]. We have ongoing operations all the time in order to try and make things safe, calm and quiet.”

Approximately 600 INP Officers patrol the Temple Mount area, half of that number operating undercover, with SWAT teams and 360 degree CCTV cameras positioned regularly.

Around 11 per cent of INP officers are non-Jewish, including Bedouins, Muslims and Christians allowing the force to liaise and communicate with Israel’s diverse population.

This area of the Old City is perhaps the most significant quarter of Jerusalem and Israel, both religiously and politically.

Each Monday and Thursday 10 to 15,000 Jews come to pray at the Western Wall.

To this is added 20 to 30,000 Muslims who come to pray at the Temple Mount on Fridays, and 20 to 30,000 Christians who take service at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre every Sunday.

Supt Rosenfeld, who is originally from London and has served in the INP from 24 years, with a background in the infantry and elite counter terrorism unit, said: “In all of these different areas that we are protecting, we are focussing on carrying out security measures in order to prevent any major terror attacks from taking place.

“You can imagine that if there were to be a terror attack here in Jerusalem at one of the Holy sites it would have repercussions not just in Jerusalem but within the different Israeli communities, Palestinian communities and of course in the Middle East as well.”

To protect the city’s inhabitants and visitors counter terrorism operations are carried out almost daily.

Information sharing relationships are cultivated with figureheads and individuals in the community.

Intelligence is shared between all levels of the Israel security services at all times, ensuring that no unit is ever without vital information in the field.

Specialist units have also been set up in recent years to specifically monitor and combat the rising role of social media in terror attacks.

When a potential threat is foiled or a suspect detained they can be questioned and held for 48 hours, and a lawyer must be notified.

However this is sometimes suspended, as Supt Rosenfeld explained, if the INP deems it “necessary in order to get critical information”, such as in the case of an ongoing terror attack.

For now Jerusalem is muted, but it is impossible to know when the next atrocity or round of deadly violence could strike.

Until that time the INP are doing everything in their power to keep people safe.

Supt Rosenfeld said: “When you walk around now things are safe, things are quiet, there are no major, major threats; but things can change in minutes.”

He added: “Police operations will continue to prevent the next terrorist attack and I can confirm that international cooperation with different police units and agencies will continue and increase over the next couple of months and years.”