Police Ban Dried Fruit on Temple Mount
Jews who ascend to the Temple Mount have become used discriminatory measures against them, but members of a group called Women for the Temple were nonetheless surprised on Thursday when police issued a new decree, forbidding them to bring dried fruit to the holiest site in Judaism.
The new order comes in addition to the ban on Jewish prayer that is strictly enforced by the Israeli police.
"You can't bring in dates and dried fruit to the Temple Mount today," police told the group after checking their bags. "The apples and cookies, you can bring."
Police discrimination against the dehydrated delicacies is not as random as one might think.
The Jewish "birthday of the trees," Tu Bishvat, began Wednesday night. As part of the day celebrating the produce of the land of Israel, the "seven species" of special foods are eaten, including dried fruits.
Rabbanit Rachel Sela, who led the group which also included children, clarified that the police have always let them bring in dried fruit on past visits, and explained that this indicates that the clampdown was particularly connected to Tu Bishvat.
"Only today for Tu Bishvat did the police decide that dried fruit are also Jewish symbols, and accordingly forbid bringing them as they forbid bringing prayer books or flags of the country," remarked Rabbanit Sela.
After being held up at the entrance to the Temple Mount for over an hour, the group was finally allowed to go up - though not without the obligatory harassment which Jewish groups have come to expect.
"An officer pursued us the entire way and urged us to advance to the exit because it would be 10 a.m. soon, and according to the Muslim Waqf's (Islamic trust) demands the Temple Mount has to be clean of Jews by that time," said a spokesperson for the group.
Former MK Professor Aryeh Eldad, head of the Professors for a Strong Israel organization, criticized Israel's management of the Temple Mount in late December, following the publication of a secret report by the State Comptroller regarding the lack of enforcement at the site.
In a recent incident, an activist caught officials of the Waqf Islamic trust, which manages the Temple Mount and is run by Jordan, illegally drilling on the ancient holy site.