Kristine L Ming

IN PICTURES: Thousands flock to Western Wall for traditional priestly blessing

Thousands of Jews gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning for the traditional priestly blessing in honor of the holiday of Succot.

The blessing is held during the intermediate days of Passover and Succot, and also on Shavuot and is rooted in the ancient Jewish tradition which saw Israelites ascend to the Temple for ritual worship led by the high priests.

While the Jewish faithful congregated at the Western Wall, police in the capital were on high alert after weeks of increased disturbances.

Police said that Jewish visitors and tourists were visiting the Temple Mount on Wednesday morning, a flashpoint site holy to Muslims and Jews that has seen violent rioting recently. A Muslim woman was arrested on the Temple Mount on Wednesday after police said she was attempting to disturb visitors.

Overnight Tuesday police in east Jerusalem arrested 13 people suspected of disturbing the peace and rioting. Among the suspects were eight adults and five minors.

Since Rosh Hashana, more than two weeks ago, 174 people have been arrested in the capital for rioting – 105 adults and 69 minors, police said. In addition 10 children under the age of 12, the minimum age for criminal responsibility, were apprehended by police who transferred their matters to the welfare services.

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