Under Watchful Eye of Idf, Jews Pray at Tomb in Hebron

Under Israel Defense Force security, several hundred Jewish pilgrims this week visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

The Hebron shrine was open Monday and Tuesday to Jewish worshipers as part of special security arrangements.

Throughout the year, Jews and Muslims have a separate schedule for access to the tomb.

The arrangements are in place as a result of a massacre last year at the site. In February 1994, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, a West Bank settler and follower of the late extremist Meir Kahane, killed 29 Muslim worshipers at the tomb.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, police arrested 18 members of the Chai v’Kayam extremist group, who tried to pray on the Temple Mount in the Old City. It was the second time in less than a month that the group had tried to push past police to pray on the mount.

The Temple Mount is the location of the First and Second temples, the holiest Jewish site, as well as Islam’s third holiest shrine.

The site is open to the public, but police have blocked the entrance to Jewish prayer groups out of concern that disturbances could start there.

Among those detained in the recent incident was the group’s leader, Yehuda Etzion. He and others were convicted and given jail sentences that were later reduced. Etzion vowed to continue his attempts to pray on the Temple Mount.

Relatedly, Gershon Salomon, head of the ultra-nationalist Temple Mount Faithful group, has petitioned the High Court of Justice for permission to enter the area. Salomon has claimed that police have denied him access since riots occurred at the site four years ago.

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