Passover 'priestly blessing' under tight security

STORY: Hundreds of police deployed across Jerusalem and its old city, Israeli police said, after violence at the Al Aqsa mosque compound, which erupted on Friday (April 15), raised fears about a slide back into deeper conflict.

Tensions were high in Jerusalem, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in recent weeks as this year the holy month of Ramadan coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover.

But this Passover, thousands of Jews were able to go back to the holy site after more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions reduced the number of worshippers to hundreds, sometime dozens.

Worshipper Yigal Havshush told Reuters Jewish people had come to the Western Wall from both Israel and overseas, adding "we pray for good health, for good year and we thank our Lord for everything".

The "Priestly Blessing" is carried out by members of the Jewish priestly caste, known as "Kohanim" in Hebrew.

Holding prayer shawls above their heads and covering their faces, they chant the blessing, starting with: "The Lord blesses you and keeps you".

The ceremony is held twice a year, during the Jewish holidays of Passover and Sukkot.

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