Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, issued a plea Thursday for protection for Jewish worshipers. He turned to police commanders in the Jerusalem region and asked them to take immediate action to restore calm and safety to Jewish holy sites.
Rabbi Yosef Shwinger of the National Center for Development of Holy Sites joined his call to police to ensure worshipers’ safety.
The rabbis’ cry follows several recent incidents in which Arab terrorists have launched large-scale assaults on Rachel’s Tomb (Kever Rachel) as Jews were praying at the holy site. Worshipers have been forced to remain inside the tomb as firebombs and rocks rain down on the surrounding walls.
While no terrorist group claimed responsibility for the mass attacks, similar attacks portrayed as “spontaneous uprisings” have in the past been found to have been coordinated by local terror cells.
Major assaults on the tomb began months ago after years of relative quiet at the holy site. A short time earlier the Palestinian Authority announced that it would ask the UNESCO to recognize Rachel’s Tomb as a PA heritage site. The PA has previously claimed that the 3,500 tomb, the burial place of the Biblical matriarch Rachel, is actually a mosque.
Sources in the National Center for Development of Holy Sites noted that the attacks threaten to undo years of hard work. Over recent years much time and money has been invested in the Rachel’s Tomb compound in an effort to ease the visiting experience for the hundreds of thousands of worshipers who come to the site each year.
Jerusalem Police Chief Yossi Pariente said Thursday that police are working with the IDF to stop the phenomenon of assaults on worshipers. Police will use more of the means at their disposal in order to drive attackers away from the holy site and arrest them, he said.