“Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.” (Numbers 9:2-3)
To keep the status quo on the Temple Mount and peace in Jerusalem during Passover, which commemorates the Jews’ deliverance from Egypt, security forces have been on high alert eyeing Jewish visitors in particular.
On Sunday, the second day of Passover, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that an array of special patrol units, undercover units, and border police had been deployed in Jerusalem to prevent any terrorist attacks.
“During the visit, 13 were removed from the area for not behaving according to the security measures that were implemented [for praying],” Rosenfeld said Sunday morning. “Police also had to move out of the area Palestinians who were chanting ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ but no other incident took place, and no one was injured or arrested.” (JPost)
In the Old City of Jerusalem, Rafael Morris, the leader of the Return to the Temple Mount Movement, was arrested for trying to sacrifice a goat for the Feast of Passover. He made this effort in obedience to Deuteronomy 16:2: “You shall sacrifice the Passover to the LORD your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses to establish His name.”
On Friday, the 14th of Nisan, Israeli Police confiscated three unharmed goat kids, and they arrested seven would-be ritual worshipers throughout the day.
The police officer who arrested the first pair saw the second goat by itself, and later discovered the identity of a third person who had intended to use the goat for the same ritual. (TOI)
Later in the day, police also arrested four other minors with a goat. They charged them with disturbing the peace.
Morris and another Temple Mount activist, Noam Federman, were also arrested Friday after violating a ban on entering Jerusalem. The ban had been put in place after officials learned that the men planned to conduct goat sacrifices for Passover.
Before Morris was detained, he told reporters, “If they want to arrest me they’ll need more than a ban. … Regrettably, the Passover sacrifice is a rite that has been forgotten.” (Haaretz)
“No ban will keep us from fulfilling this important religious injunction,” he added.
Only Muslim prayer is permitted on the Temple Mount to keep the peace with the Jordanian Islamic Waqf.
According to Yehuda Glick, a Temple Mount activist who lived through an assassination attempt two years ago, Israeli police also arrested a number of Muslim Arabs after learning of their plans to create problems with Jewish pilgrims to the Temple Mount.
“Police have preemptively arrested Arab rioters who were planning to disrupt (Jewish visits) and create tensions,” Glick said. “We mustn’t allow terrorism to dictate what we do. I have confidence that the security forces will thwart any attack attempt or any attempt at violence.”
“The Temple Mount is a center for peace, not a center for war. It is appropriate that anyone who speaks of unity and peace should visit the Temple Mount,” he said, marking his own visit to the Temple Mount on Sunday. “Those who have a different agenda should not come here.”
On Monday, the Jordanian government warned that there would be serious consequences if the status quo on the Temple Mount were breached.
“Israel is very strict that all Jews ascend without conducting any religious activity,” Glick said. “But they do have access, and Jordan is aware of that, and therefore I refer to all these official statements as an effort to impress the Palestinian world, and nothing beyond that.”