Thirteen Jews Removed From Temple Mount Compound After Apparently Attempting to Pray

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People walk near the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, October 26, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Thirteen Jews were removed from the Temple Mount compound Sunday after apparently violating the visitation terms and attempting to pray, according to Israel Police.

According to police, 1,043 visitors, among them 885 tourists, visited the Temple Mount on Sunday. Jewish visits to the Temple Mount are continuing as planned, and activists estimate that hundreds are expected to visit over the Passover holiday. Earlier Sunday, police separated young Palestinians and Jews shouting at each other on the Temple Mount.

Police issued an indictment against Rafael Morris, an activist in the Temple Mount Faithful movement, for violating an administrative order that prohibited him from travelling to Jerusalem. Morris, along with nine other Jewish activists, were detained on Friday for ascending the Temple Mount carrying baby goats intended to be used as Passover sacrifices, as they do every year. Police initially sought to extend his detention until the end of proceedings, but agreed to release him to his parents' home outside of Jerusalem.

Itamar Ben Gvir, Morris' lawyer, called the indictment "a surrender and total capitulation to the Arab threat on the Temple Mount." Ben Gvir added that police are using extreme and aggressive means to silence Jews who seek to ascend the Temple Mount.

Temple Mount activist Rafael Morris at Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, April 24, 2016.Credit: Emil Salman

Jerusalem police further strengthened forces around the Temple Mount and the Old City out of concern for increased tensions during the holiday season. The priestly blessing ceremony will take place on Sunday at the Western Wall plaza, with tens of thousands of attendees expected. Tensions usually peak around the time of the event.

“We are carefully balancing the needs of all three religions in order to enable freedom of prayer and worship, while ensuring everyone’s safety and well-being,” said the police in a statement. “We expect public conduct during this period to show tolerance and mutual respect.”

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