Israeli police are bracing for an outbreak of violence at the Western Wall next Monday morning, when Women of the Wall holds its monthly prayer service. Several Orthodox groups are mobilizing to bring out large numbers of supporters in a show of force against the multi-denominational feminist prayer group, whose practices they oppose. Police fear clashes may erupt, as they have under similar circumstances in the past.

One group behind the campaign is the Liba Center, an ultra-Orthodox, right-wing organization that has petitioned the High Court of Justice against the government decision to allocate part of the Western Wall to the non-Orthodox movements and Women of the Wall. Liba, which operates in collaboration with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, this week launched a video campaign against the government plan under the following slogan: “The Kotel is the heart of the nation – a heart cannot be split.” …

Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, told Haaretz on Wednesday that she was contacted earlier this week by a senior officer in the Jerusalem police force, who proposed that her group not hold its prayer service this month in the women’s prayer area, but rather, in a fenced off area away from the Orthodox worshipers in order to prevent confrontations. Hoffman said her group would not agree to hold its service away from the women’s section.