Thursday, August 16, 2018

Passover marked with increased arrests, banned bread and a slaughter creeping closer to the mount


By Ruth Regan - March 28, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jerusalem] [Jews] [Passover]

The week-long Jewish holiday Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, begins this Friday 30 March.

In Jewish tradition, Passover marks the exodus of the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the 'promised land’, led by Moses who parted the Red Sea.
 
Specifically 'pass over’ refers to the tenth plague God inflicted upon the ancient Egyptians, the death of every first-born Egyptian child. God told the Israelites to mark a red cross on their homes with the blood of a slaughtered lamb so that his spirit was able to 'pass over’ and spare these homes.
 
The ritual of a Passover sacrifice marks this moment, though modern Jews rarely undertake a sacrifice today. In Jerusalem however, the tradition has become an ideological battleground.
 
For over ten years, the traditional pre Passover sacrifice of a goat or lamb has been covertly taking place, each year inching slightly closer to the Temple Mount, where Jewish people say their temple once stood.
 
Upon the Temple Mount is the Masjid al-Aqsa compound, containing the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. This is third most important Islamic holy site in the world as it is believed to be where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.
This is possibly the most contested hilltop in the world.
 
Haaretz reported how in 2015, the sacrifice took place 4 km away from the compound. In 2016, it was 1.5 km away. Last year, it was just 400 metres away, taking place in the Jewish Quarter of the Old Town. But this year on Monday it came closer than ever before to the mount, conducted just tens of metres away, next to the Western Wall.
 
A Christian news website exuded this was “likely the first time since 68 AD that a Passover sacrifice was conducted in such close proximity to the Temple Mount,” meaning “Jews are closer than ever to repossessing the Temple grounds,” for them, bringing biblical prophecy ever closer.
 
Not only did the sacrifice come closer than ever in the modern era to this contested spot but the extremist activists carrying it out received state support from both Israeli police who greenlighted the event and senior rabbis who were in attendance, including Aryeh Stern, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.
 
Even Yehudah Glick, a Member of the Knesset from the Likud party, attended the event. “I am happy that were are having it here at the foot of the Temple Mount,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “We started here over a decade and a half ago, with just a handful of people – and now we have hundreds of people coming.”
 
The Passover tradition is not the only one used as a brazen ideological display. Last October, celebrating Sukkot festival, activists took the 'Water Liberation’ ritual to the foot of Temple Mount.
 
Such events are indicative of an increasing disregard in Jerusalem for Palestinians and a peaceful solution, with continuing settlement expansion in the city and extremist settlers breaking in to the Al Aqsa compound on a regular basis, protected by state police.
 
What’s more, in the run up to Passover this year 468 Palestinians have been arrested, in what has been termed 'Operation Biur Chamtez’, referring to the Passover ritual of cleansing a Jewish home of certain foods before the festival. The NGO Adalah criticised this comparison of people to food an example of racism and ethnic cleansing.
 
Israel has also banned Arab citizens bringing hospital patients bread during Passover, enforcing they comply with the Jewish Passover ritual of eating only unleavened bread.
 
The start of Passover this week coincides with Good Friday for Christians. With checkpoints usually closing over Jewish holidays, it is not yet clear whether Palestinian Christians from the West Bank who have been granted permits will be able to travel to celebrate Easter. Gazan Christians however have received no permits this year.
 

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