Jordanian border officials refused to allow a group of Israeli tourists carrying religious objects such as talitot and tefillin to enter their country on Tuesday, saying it was "a safety measure" to avoid potential terror threats. Thirty-six Israeli tourists on their way to Amman for a three-day tour were detained at the Sheikh Ali Hussein Crossing near Beit She'an at 6:30 a.m. and notified of a new regulation that prohibits entry into Jordan with tefillin, talitot, prayer books, Bibles or the Talmud. "Our group was presented with two options," said Alan Novetsky, a recent immigrant from New York who was accompanied on the tour by his wife. "Either enter Jordan without religious objects or go back to Israel." Novetsky said the group's suitcases were thoroughly searched for religious items. "They seemed to know exactly what they were looking for. "It was very demeaning to have such a negative experience in what is billed as a friendly country. People in the group, including the tour guides, were quite shocked. No one had ever heard that Jordan imposed religious restrictions," he said. "What made it worse was that the whole thing seemed to be directed solely at Jews. I saw Christians walking through into Jordan openly wearing crosses. Apparently, Christian religious symbols did not seem to be a problem for the Jordanians. I can well imagine the international outcry if Islamic tourists were to encounter such restrictions on their entry into Israel." A Jordanian security official said the decision was taken only for "security reasons." The official said that the decision had been in effect for a long time and Israeli authorities were aware of it. "The Jordanian security authorities are responsible for the safety of all visitors to the kingdom and it is our duty to take all measures required in this regard," the official explained. He expressed regret that the tourists had been offended by the measure. Novetsky said that at first the the guides tried to bargain with the Jordanian officials, promising to keep the religious items hidden and to pray inside the hotel. But the suggestions were rejected. "The vast majority of the group decided that as proud Israelis, we were either going to be allowed to walk into Jordan holding our religious objects or we would not go in at all."