Jerusalem residents quietly usher in year

Among them was Bobby Engel of Los Angeles, known as Bobby Bible, who was arrested and quickly deported after requesting a key to the roof of the Church of the Ascension. Engel told police he planned to jump off the roof. He was deported back to the United States on Saturday.

Close to midnight on Dec. 31, police detained a 45-year-old American man at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Mount of Olives who said he was "sent by God to this place."

At the Old City's permanently shut Golden Gate, where the Messiah is supposed to enter the Temple Mount, police restrained a second man.

Police spokeswoman Sigal Toledo said that neither of the men was violent but that police feared they might attempt violence. They were sent for observation at the capital's Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center.

Toledo added that police restrained a number of people speaking in public about the second coming of Jesus among the several thousand Christian faithful gathered on the Mount of Olives.

Around midnight police also broke up a scuffle that began when a group of Jews praying at the Western Wall accosted a group of Christians who came to light candles there.

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate and the Jerusalem Religious Council's stranglehold on celebrations at kosher hotels resulted in a quiet evening. The council had threatened many Jerusalem hotel owners in recent weeks that they would be stripped of their kashrut licenses if they went ahead with parties on Shabbat.

Many Christian leaders, who have been angered over the rabbinical pressure, traveled to Bethlehem, where thousands of people filled Manger Square. Many tourists staying in Jerusalem also made the trip to Bethlehem or went to Jericho.

The Old City and its churches were far from filled as previously expected, apparently due to fears by tourists of violent acts.

While Jerusalem was quiet, thousands of Israelis partied on New Year's Eve in Tel Aviv. Police reported no major problems.