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Prayers on Tisha B'Av on the Temple Mount?

Sovereignty organization launches legal battle over planned event at Judaism's holiest site after facing constant red tape.
By Shimon Cohen and Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 6/3/2014, 11:22 AM

Temple Mount
Temple Mount
Flash 90

The Women in Green (WIG) movement has asked for the Israel police's response to its request to hold a rally on the night of Tisha B'Av, the traditional Jewish day of mourning for the First and Second Temples and other Jewish tragedies, in which prayers are to be said and the Book of Lamentations to be read on the Temple Mount.

As of Tuesday morning, the Israel Police have not yet responded to WIG's request, the movement's leaders stated to Arutz Sheva

WIG chairwomen Yehudit Katzover and Nadia Matar stated that they had completed and submitted an official form asking for a prayer rally that day on the Mount over three months ago, but believe the Police have shuffled the request back and forth between departments since then.

Following the constant red tape over the issue, Katzover and Matar have contacted Professor and Attorney Aviad Hacohen, who, after reviewing the documentation involved, sent a strongly worded letter to the Israeli Police.

"While over sixty days have passed since my clients filed their application to hold a meeting on the Temple Mount, their application has not received any response so far," Hacohen began. "As written in the application, my client asked for your approval for a meeting on the Temple Mount on the night of Tisha B'av, on August 8, 2014, to read the Book of Lamentations and hold a lecture on the site." 

Hacohen clarified that the meeting will be atended by important figures.

"The event is scheduled to include the presence of Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, as well as several MKs, rabbis, and other public figures," he noted. "It seems only appropriate that you respond to this request as soon as possible, as the event reflects the basic values of a Jewish and democratic state, and the right to equality and freedom of expression mandate that it be accepted." 

Katzover and Matar told Arutz Sheva correspondents Tuesday that the event is new for the group - a step up in initiatives to establish full Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Both stated that after over twenty years of a tradition of walking around the walls of Jerusalem's Old City on Tisha B'av, alongside MKs and public officials, the time had come to bring the march to the top of the Mount. 

The Israel Police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship.

But Professor Hacohen explained that the strongly worded letter reiterates the precedence of individual rights in Israel - no matter what the political message.

"The rights to assembly, as well as equality, are constitutional rights that take the highest priority in any government," he stated. "The Mount is part of the State of Israel and is not an ex-territorial area to which the law does not apply. The Supreme Court has reiterated this, more than once." 

"It is only fitting that the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, be a place which upholds the sanctity of human rights, and that the state fulfills its obligation to actualize this in every effective way possible," he added. "Needless to say, there is a special significance to converging there on Tisha B'av, a day of national mourning over the destruction of the Temple."