The police announced, on Thursday, that it will not allow next Monday's traditional torchlight march by Jews around the walls of Jerusalem's Old City for the new month of Av, due to the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. An estimated 30,000 Muslims are expected for evening prayers on the Temple Mount and the police want to avoid friction. The month of Av traditionally produces the largest turnout of the monthly marches. Last year, an estimated 5,000 people took part.
Organizers say police generally don't allow the march that coincides with the end of Ramadan but this is the first time they have cancelled the march at the start of the month. Member of Knesset Uri Ariel (National Union) recognized police concern for the safety of the participants in the march but said that freedom of religion for Jews is a basic right which deserves a higher priority. He said he was working with the police to find an arrangement which would allow the march to take place but, for the moment, the police insist on its cancellation.