JERUSALEM – Police have barred several Israeli extremists from Jerusalem ahead of Pope Francis's visit to the Holy Land.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says five "right-wing individuals" were given orders on Friday banning them from Jerusalem after intelligence reports indicated they planned a "provocation." He says the orders will remain in effect until after the pope leaves the region.
Rosenfeld also says a church was defaced with graffiti in the southern city of Beersheba earlier in the day. Police suspect it could be the latest in a series of hate crimes blamed on radical Israelis.
The acts of vandalism have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.
The pope is expected on a two-day visit to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, beginning Saturday.