Jordan Tourists

The tomb of the biblical high priest Aaron in Jordan.

About 20 Israeli tourists were temporarily detained by Jordanian police and threatened with imprisonment Monday at a hotel near Petra.

The group was in Jordan to visit the grave of the biblical high priest Aaron, the brother of Moses, who died at Mount Hor, which is located in modern-day Jordan. Monday was the first day of the Hebrew month Av, the anniversary of Aaron’s death.

While other Jewish visitors were allowed to get to Aaron’s grave, Jordanian police prevented one group of haredi Jews from leaving their hotel. The group’s detention came amid Israeli-Jordanian tension over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount holy site. The Jordanian Islamic Waqf administers the Temple Mount, where Israel had installed metal detectors to prevent future terror attacks such as the July 14 killing of two Israeli policemen.

One of the tourists, Rabbi Menashe Zelicha of Bnei Brak, told Israel’s Kol Chai radio station that Jordanian police told the visitors it is “forbidden” for Jews to pray in the country.

“[Police said] we cannot pray, even in the hotel, even inside our room,” Zelicha said. “Policemen came into the hotel and were shouting and went wild, saying that in a minute they would take us out of Jordan if we made even a tiny squeak. They told us, ‘Whoever prays will be taken to jail.’”

The Israeli government subsequently advised the Jewish tourists “to keep a low profile and follow police’s instructions,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.