Daily Israel Report

"We Will Correct This Disgrace"

Activists promise to step-up Temple Mount campaign after annual Tisha B'Av March delayed due to Ramadan
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 7/16/2013, 9:47 AM

Tisha B'Av march, 15 July
Tisha B'Av march, 15 July
Gershon Ellinson

Activists promised to up their campaign for Jewish rights to pray on the Temple Mount last night, as Islamist rioters, police, forced significant delays to an annual march commemorating the destruction of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem.

Last week, Arutz Sheva reported that an annual Tisha B'Av march would face severe delays due to a police decision to give precedence to Muslim worshippers during the month of Ramadan.

Jewish activists asked police to delay Muslim celebrations instead, citing the fact that Ramadan is a month long, and Tisha B'Av falls on only one night, and that the late hour would likely impact on the Jewish event's turnout - but to no avail.  Police insisted that the Tisha B'Av march start only at 11:30pm, after Muslim Ramadan commemorations had finished.

On the night, the march only left at 11:50pm, due to rioting by Islamists near Damascus Gate, along the route of the march.

Event organisers Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover of the "Women in Green" group, responded by notifying police that next year, they would be marching to the Temple Mount itself.

"We wanted to let them know as far in advance as possible, so they couldn't tell us they weren't informed soon enough," Matar said in an interview today with Arutz Sheva.

"It is unbelievable that Jews are not free to pray in Jerusalem, and the events last night [Monday] were just the latest example of the authorities capitulating to Islamist pressure by restricting the rights of Jews to worship in our holiest places."

The march was addressed by several high-profile figures, including Dept. Defence Minister Danny Danon (Likud-Beyteinu), Dept. Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud-Beyteinu), Dept. Minister of Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home), Aryeh Eldad (Professors For a Strong Israel) Aryeh King (Israel Land Fund), and former prisoner of Zion Rabbi Yoseph Mendelevich.

"Freedom of worship"

This is only one in a series of developments, in an ongoing campaign by activists to secure Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount.

On Tuesday morning, following continued threats by Islamist groups, Jewish worshippers were prevented from ascending the Mount by Israeli police.

And on Monday, after a group of Jewish worshippers were forced from the Temple Mount by a mob of Muslim extremists, a senior government figure spoke out to issue a call for "freedom of worship" on the Temple Mount.

 Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon stated that there is no true "freedom of worship" whilst Jews are prevented from praying at their holiest place, and rejected the idea that threats by Islamists or international pressure should deter the government from protecting Jews who wished to pray on the Temple Mount.

“We do not need a permit from the Muslim world to for every little thing we do. We do what is best for the Jewish people. It is the job of police to take all scenarios into account and ensure freedom of worship for Jews at the Temple Mount,” Danon added.

“Our rights to Jerusalem are eternal, and not dependent on anyone else. During these days when we commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem we can put all the international pressures and threats in perspective. Anyone who believes in our historic rights will not be frightened off by these threats.”

The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site, and the place where the two Holy Temples (destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans respectively) once stood.

Yet in spite of this, Jews are subject to draconian limitations on the Mount, including a ban on praying, due to the presence of an Islamic complex administered by the Waqf Islamic Trust, and threats by Islamist groups. 

Religious Jews who are allowed to ascend are followed closely by Israeli police and Waqf guards to prevent them from praying, or from carrying out any other religious rituals. Non-Jewish visitors are not subject to such restrictions.