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Two Israelis were arrested on Monday for planning to perform a ritual sacrifice atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.


The two, members of “Return to the Mount,” had in their possession a lamb they intended to slaughter at the holy site.  The pair were arrested outside the gates of the Temple Mount and taken for questioning.

“Bringing a sacrifice is the signal to start the struggle to renew the Temple service. The time has come after two thousand years to stop crying and start changing the situation,” Return to the Mount said in a statement Monday.

“The sad thing is the easiest thing that can be done right now is to start building an altar in its place and offering a sacrifice on it. This is something that is allowed according to Jewish law, even though we are considered ritually impure [because of the lack of the ashes of a red heifer needed to remove that impurity]. With God’s help, starting this month throughout the year more and more Jews will come to bring their sacrifices to God,” added the statement.

The organization also posted on social media a photo of an Israeli security officer holding the confiscated lamb.

In an effort to thwart Jews from bringing animal sacrifices during the Passover holiday, the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Places, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz banned the bringing of animals up to the Temple Mount in April.

Earlier this month, Likud lawmaker Amit Halevi proposed to divide the Temple Mount between Muslims and Jews and to remove Jordan’s custodial status over the holy site.

Halevi outlined a plan whereby Muslims would control the southern end of the 37-acre complex that contains the al-Aqsa mosque, while Jews would receive the central and northern area, where the Dome of the Rock sits.

According to Halevi, the reorganization makes sense from a religious point of view because that part of the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, where the First and Second Temples stood. The Foundation Stone at the center of the Dome of the Rock is where Jewish sources place the Holy of Holies.

The Western Wall is the only remnant of a retaining wall encircling the Temple Mount built by Herod the Great in the first century and is the holiest site where Jews can freely pray.

Rabbis are increasingly divided over Jews ascending to the Temple Mount. For centuries, the widespread rabbinic consensus was that the laws of ritual purity still apply to the site. But in recent years, a growing number of rabbis have argued that ritual purity laws don’t apply to all sections of the Temple Mount and encourage visits to permitted areas to maintain Jewish connections to the Mount.

In September, the number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount crossed the 50,000 threshold for the first time in modern history, according to Beyadenu, an organization working to advance Jewish ties to the holy site.

Beyadenu also reported 2,200 Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount during Passover in April. In the middle of the week-long holiday, Israeli authorities banned Jews from visiting the Temple Mount for the remainder of Ramadan, which ended on April 21.

The delicate status quo governing the Temple Mount goes back to 1967, when Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six Day War. Fearing a religious war, then-defense minister Moshe Dayan agreed to let the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trusteeship, continue managing the holy site’s day-to-day affairs, while Israel would maintain overall sovereignty and be responsible for security.

The Islamic Waqf is overseen by Jordan.

According to the status quo, Jews and non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Temple Mount, but not pray there.


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