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Clash Near the Temple Mount

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Rival groups of Jewish religious zealots clashed near the Temple Mount in the Old City today. One group denounced the government for refusing to allow Jews to pray on the site which contains major Islamic shrines. The other contended that Jews are forbidden to go there as long as the Temple has not been rebuilt.

The skirmish, which police said was minor, was the only event that marred Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning over the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Large number of observant Jews gathered of the Western Wall today to read from the Book of Lamentations and chant prayers.

A holiday atmosphere prevailed in the rest of the country with many government offices, banks and private businesses closed. Many civil servants took the day off for trips to the countryside and Beaches. There was no television, and movie houses and other places of entertainment were closed. Coffee houses in Tel Aviv were jammed despite municipal laws prohibiting them from opening on religious holidays. The owners explained that their profits more than compensated for the fines they had to pay.

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