Thousands of worshippers flocked to the Western Wall Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem Monday morning for the Priestly Blessing (Birkat HaKohanim) ceremony.

Held during morning prayers, Monday’s ceremony is the first of two mass Priestly Blessing gatherings slated for Passover, with a second ceremony planned for Wednesday. This Passover’s Birkat HaKohanim was split into two days amid concerns of excessive crowding at the Western Wall Plaza.

Both of Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, took part in the ceremony Monday, along with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall Plaza.

“I invite the masses of the people of Israel to come to the Birkat HaKohanim ceremonies during the Intermediate Days (Hol HaMoed) this Passover,” said Rabbi Rabinovitch. “Our presence at the Western Wall is winning answer to those terrorists and violent rioters who pretend to act in the name of faith.”

Monday's ceremony was held among rising tensions in the capital, following days of Arab riots, as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan coincides with the Passover festival.

Some 2,500 Israeli police officers were deployed to the Old City and its environs to secure the mass prayers Monday morning.

Arab rioters clashed with police on the Temple Mount on Friday, after hundreds of rioters barricaded themselves in the Al Aqsa Mosque and threw stones at police officers.

On Sunday, Arabs attempted to block Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount by placing stones at the passageways used by Jews. Five people were injured when stones were thrown at buses carrying worshipers to the Western Wall.

The violence comes following a string of Arab terror attacks across Israel, including a stabbing attack in Haifa on Friday.