Daily Israel Report

Police Tighten Restrictions on Jews at Temple Mount

Head of Temple Mount Heritage Fund Yehuda Glick declares hunger strike, says: "The Temple Mount is my whole life."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/24/2013, 8:44 PM

Visitors to Temple Mount on Shavuot Eve
Visitors to Temple Mount on Shavuot Eve
Yeshivat Ohr V'Yeshua

Police have tightened restrictions on Jewish access to the Temple Mount in recent days, according to Jews who ascended to the Mount this week.

The Temple Movements' United Headquarters says police will not let more than ten Jews into the Mount at any given time and that families and homogeneous groups are split up in order to achieve this purpose.

In addition, observant Jews undergo individual searches, sometimes including body searches, while other people only have to pass through a metal detector.

The Chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, Yehuda Glick, announced Thursday that he is planning a hunger strike, after police decided to bar him from entering the Temple Mount. 

"With great sorrow I am declaring a hunger strike," he said. "I have reached a dead end."

Glick said that police have decided in an arbitrary fashion to distance him from the Temple Mount, although bringing groups to the Mount and serving as a guide is a source of income for him.

"The Temple Mount is my whole life," he added. "All of my attempts to understand the police's decision or to try and act to change it have failed, thus far. I wanted to start the strike this Sunday but I postponed it by a week after several friends asked me to."

 The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site, where the two holy Temples once stood before being destroyed by the Babylonian and Roman empires respectively.

Despite its supreme importance to Jews worldwide, 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. The Israeli police are able to bypass court decisions upholding the Jewish right to prayer there by citing unspecifiied "security concerns", either to ban individual activists or even to issue blanket prohibitions on Jews ascending at all.

Religious Jews 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.