Police said they arrested 26 people at a protest by Jewish nationalists yesterday at the Cenacle in Jerusalem, believed by the faithful to be the site of Jesus’s Last Supper, where Pope Francis is due to hold a Mass today.
“Demonstrators at King David’s Tomb threw stones and bottles at the security forces, lightly injuring two police,” Jerusalem police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Some Jews believe the tomb of King David is in a lower room in the same building. Jewish protesters gathered at the venue several times this month to denounce what they said were Israeli plans to hand over parts of the site to the Vatican.
Israeli authorities deny any such intention. The hall on Mount Zion, just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, was built by the Crusaders and renovated by the Franciscans during the Middle Ages.
Rosenfeld said 150 people took part in the demonstration, with 26 people taken into custody.
Francis, on his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land as pope, flew yesterday from Jordan to Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, in the occupied West Bank. He traveled on to Israel later in the day.
Last week, Israeli police and the Shin Bet internal security service handed restraining orders to some right-wing Jewish activists, whom they said intended to cause disruptions during the pope’s brief visit.
Earlier this month “Death to Arabs and Christians and all those who hate Israel” was daubed in Hebrew on an outer column of the Office of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame Center in East Jerusalem.
Additional reporting by AFP