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Israeli police ban 29 Palestinians from tense Aqsa, detain 7 Israelis

April 22, 2016 4:04 P.M. (Updated: April 23, 2016 2:56 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police on Friday banned 29 Palestinian worshippers from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and detained seven right-wing Jewish Israelis amid heightened tensions over the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli police had arrested three right-wing Jewish Israelis on Friday morning for bringing two goats toward the compound's gates as a sacrifice for the Jewish holiday.

Later on Friday afternoon, police arrested four more Jewish Israelis at the holy site's Moroccan Gate who were also on their way to make a sacrifice. All the goats were confiscated, al-Samri said.

"Israeli police are working to allow worshipers of the three religions (Muslims, Christians, and Jews) to practice their religious rituals in Jerusalem and maintain their safety," she said.

Ahead of Passover, right-wing Jewish organizations had urged Jews to flock to Jerusalem's Mount of Olives and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to offer sacrifices, Israeli media reported.

Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian worshipers were banned from the holy site following an extensive detention campaign by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem the night before the Jewish holiday.

While one of the Palestinian detainees was transferred into administrative detention, another 55 others were released on the condition that they be banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The head of the Jerusalem Detainees Committee, Amjad Abu Asab, said the al-Qishla police center had released 19 Palestinian were were detained early Friday after banning them from entering al-Aqsa for 15 days.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer with Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, told Ma'an that an Israeli court released five previously detained youths on the condition that they be banned from the holy site until May 10, in addition to eight days of house arrest.

Mahmoud said five other youths were banned from the mosque for periods ranging from eight to 15 days, bringing the total banned from the mosque to 29.

The security crack-down comes as the Israeli authorities suspended visits to Jerusalem for Gazans and closed all crossing for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, amid tightened security measures for the holiday.

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