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Police Promise: No More Soccer Games on Temple Mount

At long last, said Public Security Minister Yitzchak Ahronovich, police will enforce the law banning soccer games on Judaism's holiest site.
By David Lev and Ari Soffer
First Publish: 9/12/2013, 4:15 PM

Temple Mount
Temple Mount
Flash 90

It's bad enough that Jews are more or less banned from their holiest site – the Temple Mount – but what's even painful is the fact that those who are allowed to use it on a regular basis desecrate the sacred site on a regular basis. That was the essence of a missive sent by MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beiteinu) to Public Security Minister Yitzchak Ahronovich – and to Feiglin's surprise, the minister said that he would order police to enforce a court ruling that bans soccer games on the Mount.

Jews have long complained about the activities by Muslims on the Mount deemed inappropriate to a holy place, such as barbecues, picnics, and political demonstrations. One of the worst desecrations, say many Jews involved in the issue, are the soccer games that take place in the open areas of the mount, with the attendant cursing, fighting, and other unholy behavior. The High Court several years ago banned the practice, in response to several petitions – but police have never enforced the law.

That will now change, said Ahronovich.

Responding to a Knesset query filed last June by Feiglin, in the wake of an incident in which Jews grabbed a soccer ball being used for an illegal game, and gave it to police – who promptly returned it to the players – Ahronovich said that the police are obligated to uphold the law, and they will.

“The officers acted in contradiction to the law and their obligations,” Ahronovich said. “The query by MK Feiglin is definitely appropriate. Police will from now on conscientiously enforce the law, and I have ordered police commanders to do so. Police are already working through several channels that the sanctity of the site is preserved,” he added.

In response, the Jewish Leadership (Manhigut Yehudit) movement, led by Feiglin, praised Ahronovich saying that he had promised to look into how and why police have not been enforcing the law as required. Officials of the Temple Institute also praised the minister, saying that it welcomed efforts by police to end the practice of using the holy site “as a playground.”

The Temple Mount is the site of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem, the last of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70CE, and is Judaism's holiest place.

Yet despite that fact Jews are banned from carrying out any forms of religious worship on the Mount, for fear of offending Muslim worshippers at the Al Aqsa Islamic complex which today sits upon the ruins of the Temples.

MK Feiglin has been a particularly vocal critic of the policy banning Jewish worship on the Temple Mount, condemning it as discrimination. He himself had been subject to a blanket ban from ascending the Mount after police took issue with several high profile visits he made to the site.