There are growing concerns that Jewish ultranationalists are attempting to change the status quo in the complex where the Al-Aqsa mosque is located.
An ultranationalist Israeli activist who intended to perform a Jewish sacrifice at Al-Haram al-Sharif, the complex that includes the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, has reportedly been detained, according to Israeli police.
Israeli police are attempting to stop what would be considered a provocative Passover sacrifice from occurring at the location while Palestinian Muslims observe Ramadan, which is why the arrest on Monday took place.
Jews refer to the area as the Temple Mount, and conflicts between Israel and Palestine frequently break out there during holy days.
This year, the Jewish Passover festival and the holy month of Ramadan coincide. Historically, this has resulted in Israeli authorities repressing Palestinians, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem.
The activist Raphael Morris recorded phone footage that was shown by Israeli media, which showed him being stopped in his car by plainclothes police officers.
An officer can be heard in the video stating that Morris’ home will be searched because he is accused of interfering with public order. The footage is real, according to the police.
According to the Temple Mount Administration, a messianic Jewish outfit that seeks to erect a Jewish temple inside the grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Morris was stopped while driving close to Latrun, around 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, the first day of the Passover festival, certain ultranationalist religious organizations have been urging other activists to bring lambs to sacrifice at the location.
Since the 1967 war, a status quo agreement has existed between Israel, the Palestinians, and Jordan, which serves as the steward of the Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. It forbids non-Muslims from performing worship there but permits non-Muslims to visit during certain hours.
Jews historically do not pray there, and for religious reasons, Israel’s Supreme Rabbinate forbids Jews from ever approaching the place.
Despite this, more ultranationalist Jews have infiltrated the compound, and the numerous Israeli security force incursions into the area—including within the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s prayer hall—have heightened Palestinian resentment.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister and a convicted felon who is part of a growing Israeli movement that has contested the limitations on Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa, has also upped his provocative visits.
For the past two years, clashes have taken place often between Israeli security forces, settler groups, and Palestinians, particularly after storming incidents in Al-Aqsa.
The occurrences have increased Palestinians’ dread of a future Zionist attempt to annex or divide the site.
One of the few national symbols that the Palestinians still have some degree of sovereignty over is Al-Aqsa, according to them. They worry, too, that Jewish groups may gradually encroach, as they did at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque (also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs), where in 1967, half of the mosque was converted into a synagogue.
The far-right Israeli movements that want to destroy the Islamic buildings in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and replace them with a Jewish temple also cause concern for the Palestinians.
Jews have been climbing the compound more frequently over the years, either to call for the officialization of Jewish worship there or to actually pray there covertly and occasionally openly as police officials watch.
Attempts to transport goats to the sacred place to recreate the Passover sacrifice have been made in the past by right-wing Jews.
Ten Palestinians were detained by authorities in 2016 as they were on their way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex to give the Passover sacrifice.
The next year, Israeli police stopped a Jewish man in Jerusalem’s Old City who was carrying a baby goat on the off chance that he intended to offer it as a sacrifice. A few hours before the seven-day Passover festival, the incident happened.