A Jewish man in his 30s, who took advantage of the holiday of Sukkot in order to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, was arrested on Sunday morning simply because an Arab security guard suspected that he was praying during the tour of the complex.
David Ha'ivri, Executive Director of the Shomron Liaison Office, who was on the scene of the incident, told Arutz 7 what had taken place:
“At 7:30 this morning I had the privilege of going up to Temple Mount with 20 other Jews,” said Ha’Ivri and added that Israeli police officers as well as inspectors from the Waqf accompanied the Jews who took part in the tour of the area. Among their responsibilities, explained Ha’Ivri, is to ensure that no Jew violates the instructions he receives upon entering the complex, which include a prohibition to pray at Judaism's holiest site.
“After the checkpoint at the Mugrabi Gate, a police officer gives a list of guidelines in a cold and dry voice,” described Ha’Ivri. “Do not pray. Do not tear a garment. Do not prostrate yourself. It is forbidden to take any action that the Muslims may see as a religious act.
“We went up [to the Temple Mount] and we heard a lecture from Yoel Elizur about the location of the Temple and about the holiday,” continued Ha’Ivri. “Right before we returned a young Jewish man stood on the sidelines and they suspected that he was praying. A Waqf man rushed towards him and asked him to move and to stop. He didn’t react and the Waqf inspector called a police officer, who immediately told him to stop and called for reinforcements, saying that ‘there are problems here…’ They took him to the police station and we returned to the Mugrabi Gate to pick up his shoes that had been left there before we went up the mountain, as is the custom. We waited at the station to give them to him. He was taken to Kishla (the police station near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem) and has not been released up until now, three and a half hours later.”
Last year on Sukkot the Temple Mount was also closed to Jews, after an incident in which a group of some 50 Chassidim attempted to reach the Mount of Olives and were attacked by a mob of Arabs.
Ha’Ivri noted that despite the harsh criticism regarding the policy on the Temple Mount, those Jews who visit the area yearn to be there so much that they strictly adhere to the rules in place, in order to avoid being placed on the “black list” of those who will no longer receive permits to visit the Temple Mount complex in the future.