Israel police arrest 26 Jewish extremists at pope visit site
Published Sunday 25/05/2014 (updated) 27/05/2014 10:21
An Orthodox Jewish man looks at a large banner welcoming
Pope Francis in Jerusalem's Old City Christian Quarter on May 24,
2014 (AFP Gali Tibbon)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Jerusalem police arrested 26 Jewish extremists protesting Sunday at a holy site on Mount Zion outside the Old City that will be visited by Pope Francis, a spokesman said.
The arrests took place just hours before Francis' arrival in Jerusalem.
"Demonstrators at King David's Tomb threw stones and bottles at the security forces, lightly injuring two police," spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, referring to a site revered as holy by Christians, Jews, and Muslims where the pope will celebrate mass on Monday.
"Among those arrested was a soldier who threatened a police officer with his weapon when one of his friends was arrested," he added, saying some of them had broken into the room where the ancient sarcophagus is located before being evacuated.
Israeli public radio said 150 extremists had gathered to denounce the pope's upcoming visit and were chanting slogans against the atrocities committed by the church against Jews during the Crusades and the Inquisition.
The upper floor of the building where the tomb is located is known to Christians as the Cenacle, the place where Jesus ate the Last Supper and where his followers were baptized by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Under Israeli law, Christians are only permitted to pray there twice a year, and plans for the pope to celebrate mass there have prompted weeks of protest and several incidents of anti-Christian vandalism.