Thousands of people are expected to come to the ancient cemetery at the Mount of Olives in the days before Yom Kippur, to visit the graves of their loved ones and graves of "tzaddikim," or wise and righteous people.
This year they can do so with less trepidation, activists say, because the security situation there has improved markedly in recent months.
The Committee for Protection of the Mount of Olives, chaired by the brothers Rabbis Avraham and Menachem Lubinsky in the US, notes with satisfaction that there is a marked reduction in the number of violent incidents by Arabs at the Mount of Olives, and that there have been no cases of grave desecration in the last few months.
The Committee says that the improvement is due to the construction of a security system that includes 142 cameras, a fence, lighting, and a police outpost.
However, they said, the security situation is still far from being satisfactory. Despite numerous discussions in the Knesset and government, and promises to establish a police station with 24 policemen who will work in shifts throughout the day, no such action has materialized. There is usually only one policeman stationed at the location at any point in time, they added, noting that he cannot take care of security for the entire mountain. The Committee insists that promises regarding the police station be honored.
Recently, a hareidi forum for the Mount of Olives was established by MKs Menachem Eliezer Moses (UTJ) and David Azulai (Shas), as well as Acting Mayor of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yosef Deitsch. The Council in Israel is managed by Jeff Daube of the ZOA and Harvey Schwartz.
"We will not let up the pressure until there are 24 policemen working 24 hours a day on the Mount," vowed Avraham Lubinsky Tuesday. "Only then will we know that we are on the right road, to reestablishing order and allowing every Jews to visit the graves on the holy Mount. In this way, we will know that we have carried out our mission successfully, as part of our volunteer work for this cause."