Israeli police detain head of Israeli extremists who planned to perform Passover sacrifice at Al-Aqsa
The Israeli police claimed it had detained the leader of an extremist Jewish movement known as "Returning to the Mount" on suspicion of planning to perform the Jewish sacrifice of Passover in the Muslim site of the al-Haram al-Sharif compound in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Raphael Morris, the movement's leader and a Jewish settler, was previously detained on similar grounds.
Last month activists from the movement were arrested after hanging notices in Arabic in the Old City of Jerusalem encouraging Palestinians to facilitate the ritual, offering them money for storing lambs near the Al-Aqsa compound until the time comes for the ritual sacrifice.
"Do you have a yard or extra room? Want to earn easy income on the side? A place is needed to store lambs in the Old City near the holy site," the notice said.
The movement also offered a reward of over US$5,000 to Jews who are arrested for trying to perform the ritual sacrifice in the holy compound.
In the past, Morris' "Returning to the Mount" movement had encouraged Jews to circumvent a ban on praying at the Al-Aqsa by sneaking in dressed as Muslims.
Jews can visit the compound but not pray under the status quo. However, the Islamic Waqf department insists that the visits must be coordinated.
The Passover holiday, or Pesach, starts on Wednesday evening and coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Christian holiday of Easter also overlaps with Ramadan and Pesach.
According to Jewish tradition, the Passover sacrifice was a ritualistic lamb slaughter at the Jewish Temple annually.
The al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Jews call it Temple Mount, the site of an ancient Jewish temple.