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Israel detains five women over prayer

on April 11, 2013 10:10 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police detained five women today at a Jerusalem holy site for performing religious rituals there that ultra-Orthodox Jews say are reserved for men.

The detentions come just a day after Israeli authorities proposed a compromise to defuse tensions over the issue of women’s worship at the Western Wall. The proposal, which still has to be approved by the government, envisions establishing a new section at the site where men and women can pray together.

About 120 women arrived Thursday morning for their monthly prayer service and police arrested five for wearing prayer shawls, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

He said an ultra-Orthodox man was also detained for burning a prayer book in protest.

The Western Wall, the only remaining part of the biblical Temple compound, is the holiest site where Jews can pray. It is currently divided into men’s and women’s sections. Orthodox rabbis, who control Israel’s religious institutions, oppose mixed-gender prayers.

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