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Police gearing up for clashes expected at Friday prayer service at Western Wall

Border Policewomen help members of the Women of the Wall movement leave after attempting to hold monthly prayers as thousands of ultra-Orthodox women protest against them at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, on March 8, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Border Policewomen help members of the Women of the Wall movement leave after attempting to hold monthly prayers as thousands of ultra-Orthodox women protest against them at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, on March 8, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Physical clashes are expected to occur at the Western Wall tomorrow between the Women of the Wall progressive prayer group and a group of ultra-Orthodox MKs and activists.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation says it is not taking responsibility for the expected protest and scuffles, and calls on police to intensify its presence at the scene. Dozens of additional police officers are expected to be on patrol at the area early tomorrow morning.

The Women of the Wall group holds prayers at the Western Wall each Rosh Hodesh, which marks the beginning of the Hebrew month. Ultra-Orthodox activists often attempt to disrupt the proceedings and clashes regularly break out.

Shas leader Arye Deri called on his followers to join him and other MKs there tomorrow morning to stop the “desecration” — a message that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu retweeted.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the Prime Minister’s Office has asked Labor MK and Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv not to attend the services tomorrow in order to avoid further clashes.

In recent months, Kariv, who entered the Knesset in April, has used his parliamentary immunity to smuggle a Torah scroll to the Women of the Wall, something not allowed according to the current Kotel regulations.

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