Group offers cash reward for successful Passover sacrifice on Temple Mount

“The police should protect us and help us bring the sacrifice rather than stop us. That’s the real job they’re supposed to do,” said Rafael Morris, head of the Returning to the Mount movement.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A group that wants Israel to take back full control of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and Islam’s third-holiest, is offering a substantial cash reward to the person who manages to perform the Passover sacrifice this Friday on the Mount.

Friday night is the first night of Passover. One of the main commandments of the holiday is to bring a sheep or goat to the Temple to be sacrificed earlier in the day and eaten in large family groups.

The Returning to the Mount movement has publicized a cash prize of 10,000 shekels for a successful sacrifice.

If a person is stopped on his way to make the attempt with a goat or lamb, he will receive a consolation prize of 800 shekels. Even those who are stopped without an animal in tow will get 400 shekels.

“It is time to change the rules of the game,” the movement said in a statement. “Neither Hamas nor Jordan will decide whether the offering of the sacrifices will be resumed – it depends solely on us. This coming Friday, Passover eve, we will reach the Temple Mount from all parts of the country with goats and sheep demanding the sacrifice at its appointed time.”

The group asked the Israel Police for permission to bring the sacrifice, as they have done every year for the last decade – including during the Covid-19 pandemic. They have been consistently refused, as the police have deemed it an act that could incite violence.

This is no idle supposition, as when this year’s request became known, Kamal al-Khatib, deputy leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, warned about the “danger” of “extremist settlers” having the ritual ceremony “on the plaza of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” during Ramadan. This is the way that Israel, he said, wants to begin the process of “building the Temple.”

The First Temple, built by King Solomon, was destroyed in 586 BCE; the Second Temple, built on the same site, was destroyed in 70 CE.

Although early Arab historians acknowledged that the Temple Mount was the site of the temples holy to Judaism, revisionists have since denied that anything Jewish had ever existed there.

In a barely veiled threat of violence, al-Khatib said, “Our people know exactly what is demanded of them to foil the plans of the Jews.”

Rafael Morris, head of the Returning to the Mount movement, has been banned by authorities from entering the Old City.

In a formal step prior to issuing the order, Home Front Command chief Maj. Gen. Uri Gordon sent a letter to Morris asking why he should not be banned, considering that he has “participated in a number of provocations in front of the Temple Mount.”

In 2016, Morris spent the Seder night in jail after being caught that morning with a goat that he was attempting to bring into the Old City for the sacrifice.

Morris answered in part, “These are acts that I stand behind and am proud of …. [I] even proudly challenge the anti-Jewish law enforcement system that prohibits -without any legal cause – the realization of full Jewish worship on the Temple Mount.”

“The state has no legal cause to distance me or my friends,” he added. “And therefore, unfortunately, the state has chosen the permanent solution of expulsion and war on Jews while legitimizing Arab violence and terrorism.”

World Israel News reached out to Morris, asking for his reaction to al-Khatib’s threat.

“Every move that the Jews want to do regarding the Land of Israel, the Arabs react with violence and terror,” he said. “That never was and never will be a reason not to live in the land and be proud Jews. The police should protect us and help us bring the sacrifice rather than stop us. That’s the real job they’re supposed to do.”

He said that he had indeed received the expected restraining order, but it does not matter to him.

“Yesterday, an hour and a half after publishing the reward offer, I got the administrative order banning me from the Old City – for two months. I’m planning to go anyway and am inviting people to come join me because it’s one of the most important commandments of the Torah.

“The distancing order won’t stop us from actualizing our rights on the Temple Mount.”