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MARATHON TRIAL UPDATES

Penalty phase set to start

5 women detained at Western Wall

JERUSALEM — Israeli ­police detained five women Thursday at a Jerusalem holy site for performing religious rituals that ultra-Orthodox Jews say are reserved for men.

The detentions came a day after an Israeli organization proposed a compromise to diffuse tensions over the issue of women’s worship at the Western Wall. The proposal envisions an area where men and women can pray together.

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About 120 women arrived Thursday morning for their monthly prayer service and police detained five for wearing prayer shawls. They were released without charge.

An ultra-Orthodox man was held for burning a prayer book and was still in custody.

The Western Wall, the only remaining part of the biblical Temple compound, is the holiest site where Jews pray. It is divided into men’s and women’s areas. Orthodox rabbis ­oppose mixed-gender prayers.

In recent months, female worshipers have been detained for wearing religious garments and leading prayers.

Natan Sharansky, chairman of the semi-governmental Jewish Agency, offered a compromise Wednesday that could mark a victory for liberal streams of Judaism in their long quest for recognition.

“The events at the Western Wall today are one more reminder of the urgent need to reach a permanent solution and make the Western Wall once again a symbol of unity among the Jewish people, and not one of discord and strife,” the agency said in a statement after the arrests.

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