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Israel detains five women for wearing shawls in Western Wall prayer protest

Baz Ratner / Reuters

A woman looks at men praying from behind a metal screen at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City on April 11, 2013. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to consider liberalizing access to the Western Wall, officials said on Wednesday, citing concern that police-enforced Orthodox controls on women worshipers alienate Jews abroad.

Michal Fattal / AP

Israeli women pray at the Western Wall on April 11, 2013. Israeli police have detained five women for performing religious rituals that ultra-Orthodox Jews say are reserved for men. A police spokesman said about 120 woman arrived for their monthly prayer service Thursday and five were detained for wearing prayer shawls.

Israeli police detained five women activists on Thursday at the Western Wall, one of Judaism's most sacred sites, for wearing prayer shawls, which Orthodox tradition sees as solely for men, a spokesman said.

The incident occurred during a monthly prayer session by the Women of the Wall, a group opposed to police-enforced Orthodox controls at the Jerusalem holy site, where worshipers are segregated by sex in accordance with strict Jewish tradition.

On Wednesday, officials said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was considering a plan to convert an old archaeological dig south of the wall to an area where men and women would be allowed to mix and worship freely. Read the full story.

Michal Fattal / AP

A woman is arrested for wearing a prayer shawl at the Western Wall on April 11, 2013.

Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

A couple covered with a 'Tallit' (traditional Jewish prayer shawl) pray at the Western Wall on April 11, 2013.

Michal Fattal / AP

Women pray at the Western Wall on April 11, 2013.

Baz Ratner / Reuters

Police officers detain an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man at the Western Wall on April 11, 2013, after he burned a book belonging to the Women of the Wall, a group opposed to police-enforced Orthodox controls at the Jerusalem holy site.

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Israeli police detained five women activists for wearing prayer shawls at Jerusalem's Western Wall, a practice which Orthodox tradition sees as solely for men. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.