Thousands Attend Priestly Blessing Ceremony at Western Wall Under Heavy Security

Police remove two Jewish visitors from Temple Mount for violating visitation rules.

Jewish men of the Cohanim caste participate in a blessing during Passover at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, April 25, 2016.
Sebastian Scheiner, AP

Tens of thousands of people flocked to the Western Wall on Monday morning to attend a priestly blessing ceremony. The prayer was conducted under heavy guard due to security tension in the capital.

Also on Monday morning, police removed two Jewish visitors from the Temple Mount for violating the site's visitation rules, and, apparently, trying to pray there.

Jewish groups entering the Temple Mount are escorted by police. The site is also supervised by the Waqf, the Islamic authority managing the site.

The police said 584 visitors entered the Temple Mount on Monday morning, 453 of them tourists. On Sunday, 153 Jewish visitors entered the site. 13 of them were removed by the police.

The police said in a statement that arrangements were made "to allow all visitors and worshippers, from all faiths and communities, and to exercise their freedom of religion."

Security forces have reinforced their presence in Jerusalem's Old City, mainly near Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter.

Unlike in recent years, Jerusalem municipality inspectors did not attempt to stop the sale of food products that are not kosher for Passover by Palestinian vendors near Jaffa Gate.

Jewish men, draped in prayer shawls, take part in the Cohanim prayer during Passover at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel, April 25, 2016.
Sebastian Scheiner, AP
Jewish men, draped in prayer shawls, take part in the Cohanim prayer during Passover at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel, April 25, 2016.
Menahem Kahana, AFP
An Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish man participates in the Cohanim Priestly caste blessing during the Jewish holiday of Passover, in front of the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, Monday, April 25, 2016.
Sebastian Scheiner, AP
Jewish men, draped in prayer shawls, take part in the Cohanim prayer (priest's blessing) during the Pesach (Passover) holiday at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on April 25, 2016.
Menahem Kahana, AFP
Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish men participate in the Cohanim Priestly caste blessing during the Jewish holiday of Passover, in front of the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, Monday, April 25, 2016.
Sebastian Scheiner, AP
Israelis hold a Torah scroll prior to the Cohanim Priestly caste blessing during the Jewish holiday of Passover, in front of the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, Monday, April 25, 2016.
Sebastian Scheiner, AP
Jewish men, draped in prayer shawls, take part in the Cohanim prayer during Passover at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel, April 25, 2016.
Menahem Kahana, AFP