Police Block 'Circling of Gates'
Citing proximity to Ramadan, police nix the monthly parade around Temple Mount.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/28/2011, 6:16 PM
The Israel Police have told organizers of the monthly Circling of the Gates that they will not allow them to hold the event this Monday. They cited the proximity of the date to the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan.
The Circling of the Gates – a parade around the Temple Mount – has been taking place every Rosh Hodesh (first of the Jewish month) for the past decade. Police have always barred the ceremony when it fell close to the end of Ramadan, but this is the first time that it is also cancelled before Ramadan.
The Circling of the Gates is a renewal of an ancient Jewish tradition that is mentioned in manuscripts dating back 1,000 years. Participants circle the Mount and stop to recite Psalms at every one of its gates. The ceremony at the beginning of the month of Av usually draws the largest amount of participants: last year there were 5,000.
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) is not happy about the police decision. "The work that the Israel Police do is sacred and I have no doubt that they are thinking about how best to protect the participants. However, Jewish freedom of religion is also a basic right, and it would have been better if the Israel Police had placed the rights of the participants higher on its list of priorities."
"I am trying to find an arrangement vis-א-vis the police that will make it possible to hold the event, but right now the police insist on cancelling it," he said.
The police responded to the story by saying that this year, the date of the Av Circling of the Gates coincides with the evening prayer by 30,000 Muslims in honor of the coming of the month of Ramadan. Because of these "exceptional" circumstances the police had to cancel the Circling "in order to prevent friction between the sides."