Israel restricts radical Jews ahead of pope’s tour

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Reuters

Pope Francis. File picture: Stefano Rellandini

Jerusalem -

Fearing disruption by Jewish extremists when Pope Francis visits Jerusalem, police said on Friday they would issue restraining orders against 10 more rightist activists, bringing the total to 15.

“Yesterday the head of the Jerusalem district mentioned that there would be a further 10,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP on Friday. He did not give further details.

On Wednesday, Israel placed three young Jews under house arrest on suspicion they were planning to disrupt the pontiff's Sunday-Monday visit.

Restraining orders were also imposed on two students from a Jewish seminary at Mount Zion, where on Monday the pope will hold a Mass at the Upper Room where Jesus held the Last Supper.

“We have taken some pre-emptive steps to distance people who, according to intelligence received, were intending to disrupt the visit,” Friday's Yediot Aharonot daily quoted Jerusalem police chief Yossi Pariente as saying.

“We have no intelligence about plans to harm the pope himself, but there are plans to embarrass the state of Israel or to disrupt public order during this sensitive visit.”

Almost 8 000 extra police officers are to be deployed on Jerusalem's streets for the duration of the visit.

Israel has been struggling to contain a wave of hate crimes by Jewish extremists targeting Palestinian and Arab property, which has included an increasing number of vandalism attacks on mosques and churches.

Although police have made scores of arrests, there have been no successful prosecutions, prompting widespread expressions of concern from Christian leaders. - Sapa-AFP


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