17 religious Jews detained for attempting to sacrifice goat in Old City

Heightened security remains in effect for Passover, as over 100,000 are expected for priestly blessing Thursday.

A view of the Old City of Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A view of the Old City of Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A goat intended to be sacrificed near the Old City’s Temple Mount for the Passover holiday was rescued on Monday, while the ringleader of the Biblical reenactment was arrested and 16 others were detained.
According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the suspects didn’t make it far past Jaffa Gate before being apprehended by police.
“Police spotted them as soon as they entered the Old City as they took the goat toward the Western Wall to carry out a religious ceremony that is banned because it would have caused a public disturbance and breach of the peace,” said Rosenfeld on Wednesday.
“The guy holding the goat was arrested, and the goat was confiscated. Apart from that, the other 16 members of the group were detained, questioned and released,” Rosenfeld added.
The unharmed goat was transferred to the Agriculture Ministry’s Veterinary Services division.
The Passover sacrifice was an ancient ritual performed by Jewish families during the First and Second Temple periods to commemorate the biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt, in which the Israelites were commanded to slaughter a lamb and splatter its blood on their door posts.
Rosenfeld said security in the Old City is at its highest level, as over 150,000 Jews and Christians are expected to take part in the priestly blessing Thursday morning, and Saturday’s Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter.
“Tens of thousands of people are expected to make their way through the Old City and extra patrol units are mobilized in the area to ensure they can travel freely and safely,” he said.