BEIRUT

Middle East

Israeli police detain extremists before pope visit

Israeli Muslims, Christians and Jews hold placards during a joint-protest against the increase of attacks on Arabs by Jewish extremists on May 11, 2014 outside Israeli Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem. (AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA)

JERUSALEM: Israel's national police force said Wednesday it has issued restraining orders against several Jewish extremists who had planned to "disrupt" the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a "number of right-wing activists" have been restrained for their intention to carry out "provocative and illegal acts" during the three-day visit to the Holy Land. The order restricts them from Jerusalem's Old City, where Francis will visit, and orders them to stay away from the pope, Rosenfeld said.

In recent weeks, vandals have scribbled anti-Arab and anti-Christian graffiti on Christian holy sites and properties, including a Roman Catholic visitor's center outside the Old City.

In addition to churches and monasteries, vandals have also targeted mosques, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases.

A tiny fringe group of radical Israeli settlers are believed to be behind the spate of attacks meant to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government's pro-Palestinian policies and in retaliation for Palestinian attacks.

The pope is set to visit Jordan, the West Bank and Israel during a three-day visit beginning Saturday.

 

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