The Israel Police arrested seven right-wing Jewish activists to prevent their offering caprine paschal sacrifices at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Monday, the eve of the Passover holiday.
The six are member of the Return to Temple Mount movement, and they have been publicly calling on the Jewish public to partake in the ritual sacrifice of goats at the Old City’s flashpoint before the festival. Every year, activists come to the gates of the Temple Mount with goats and their kids to sacrifice them, and they are usually arrested by the police.
The Return to Temple Mount movement said that police raided the activists' homes with arrest warrants. Police also reportedly showed up at the parents' home of the head of the movement, Rafael Morris, in Beit Shemesh, but he was not there. His parents said that if the police wanted to arrest him, they would have to go to his home in the Binyamin region, which they indeed successfully did.
Last week, the Jerusalem district commander, Yoram Halevi, prohibited the holding of a rehearsal of the Passover sacrifice event at the foot of the Temple Mount. At the event, they planned to slaughter sheep on an altar and then roast the lamb on coals.
The organizers petitioned the High Court of Justice against Halevi and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, demanding that the police decision be canceled, but on Sunday they were rejected.
Itamar Ben Gvir, the prominent right-wing activist and a lawyer who is representing the detainees, commented, "Israel is losing its democratic character and it is impossible for people to be arrested early in the morning just because they want to fulfill the commandments of the Jewish religion.”
Morris said in response, "It’s a shame that the State of Israel is operating with an iron fist against people who only want to renew one of the most important commandments in the Torah. The police will not keep us from our right to make the paschal sacrifice I trust and believe that for every activist who was arrested, dozens more will come in their place to the Temple Mount on Passover Eve with their paschal sacrifices.”
The Israel Police explained that they were preventing extremist groups—Jewish and Arab alike—from the Temple Mount to prevent possible provocations.
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)