Israel detains Passover sacrifice campaigner as al-Aqsa tensions simmer

An Israeli campaigner for Jewish prayer rights at the Jerusalem compound that houses al-Aqsa mosque was detained on Monday, in an apparent bid to preempt any attempt to hold a Passover sacrifice at the site while Palestinians mark Ramadan.

The compound, revered by Jews as a vestige of their two ancient temples, is a flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is monitored especially closely by authorities during religious holidays.

Since capturing the site in a 1967 war, Israel has maintained a long-standing status quo arrangement preventing non-Muslim worship there.

But a fringe Jewish religious group, the Temple Mount Administration, has been calling for fellow activists to bring Paschal lambs to sacrifice at the site on Wednesday, the beginning of the Passover festival.

That would clash with Palestinian observances of the Ramadan month, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.

Israeli media aired cellphone footage taken by Refael Morris – whom the Temple Mount Administration describes as the leading Passover sacrifice campaigner – that showed him being pulled over in his car by plainclothes policemen.

In the video an officer says Morris is suspected of disrupting public order and that his house would be searched. Police said the video was authentic but did not make further comment on the reasons for the detention.

Morris was stopped while driving near Latrun, about 35 kilometer (20 miles) from Jerusalem, the Temple Mount Administration said.

Growing numbers of Jewish visitors who flout the ban on prayers in the compound have stoked rancor among Palestinians and in Jordan, al-Aqsa’s custodian. So has Israel’s appointment of Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-rightist who once opposed the ban when he was minister for police.

On Sunday, the Temple Mount Administration circulated a protest statement after Ben-Gvir told Channel 12 TV the Passover sacrifice campaigners should “cool it” on what he dismissed as their “protest stunt”.

“I’m not in favor of there being a Passover sacrifice,” said Ben-Gvir, who since taking office has dropped his past demand to formalize Jewish prayer rights at the compound.

Related Articles

Back to top button