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Four Jews planning animal sacrifice on Temple Mount arrested – with a goat at one of their homes

Such an attempt would have likely sent soaring already high tensions in Jerusalem

Illustrative - A goat taken by police from a man who intended to sacrifice it for Passover in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 10, 2017. (Photo: Police spokesperson)

Israeli Police said they arrested four Jews who were planning to sacrifice a goat on the Temple Mount ahead of Passover – an illegal act that could have triggered Palestinian violence during the month of Ramadan.

The suspects apparently live in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and police found a goat at one of their homes on Thursday morning, police said.

Knowing that the attempt was not without risk, an extremist group – Returning to the Mount – offered financial incentives to anyone who succeeded in such a sacrifice or even got arrested in the process.

“Arrested? 400 shekels. Arrested with a goat/lamb? 800 shekels. Managed to sacrifice? 10,000 shekels,” read a post on the Returning to the Mount Facebook page.

According to this, the suspects would have landed the 800-shekel – or $250 – prize.

Police said that will work to ensure that such inflammatory, and illegal, acts do not occur.

“Police will continue to operate in Jerusalem and anywhere else together with all security agencies, 24/7, covertly and overtly, against any person who attempts to violate the order and laws in place at the Temple Mount and the other holy sites in the city,” police said in a statement.

Hamas, which convened a meeting on Wednesday to discuss rising tensions, warned of “provocations” being planned by Jews during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan to upset the status quo at the Old City compound which contains al Aqsa mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall. Muslims pray at the mosque during Ramadan in increased numbers.

“We stress that this represents a dangerous escalation that crosses all red lines, as it is a direct assault on the belief and feelings of our people and our nation during this holy month,” Hamas said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog countered these reports and said Israel was intent on keeping peace.

“Israel maintains the status quo on the Temple Mount, and I have also made this clear in my diplomatic meetings with King Abdullah II, whom I met recently in Amman, and other leaders,” he said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Arabic-language spokesperson said there were no official allowances for animal sacrifices and that police would halt any such attempt.

Returning to the Mount – an extremist Jewish group that is seeking to build the third temple – issued a statement as well.

“The police boasts it is granting freedom of worship to all religions but the reality is shameful,” it said. “The police dance to the sounds of Hamas' flute and brutally arrest any Jew who thinks of observing the holiday – the Passover sacrifice. Any efforts by the police will be in vain. We will arrive [to the Temple Mount] on the eve of Passover in order to offer a Passover sacrifice."

Read more: TEMPLE MOUNT

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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