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'Quiet War' on David's Tomb 'as Dangerous as Arab War'

Rabbi tells Arutz Sheva that with end of Gaza op., Israel must return changing status quo at David's Tomb to front and center.
By Benny Toker, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 8/27/2014, 11:01 PM

Crosses at King David's Tomb for Mass (file)
Crosses at King David's Tomb for Mass (file)
Yonatan Yosef

Rabbi Eldad Shmueli, an activist for the Jewish rights to King David's Tomb in Jerusalem's Mount Tzion, on Wednesday called on the public to visit the David's Tomb Compound to fight the change in status quo that threatens Jewish access to the holy site.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva about the impact of Operation Protective Edge, which reached a controversial long-term ceasefire on Tuesday, Rabbi Shmueli said "from the nature of things during the war we were distracted from David's Tomb, everything moved to the side."

"We need to bring it back to the center," declared the rabbi.

Early last month in a Knesset Interior Committee meeting chaired by MK Miri Regev (Likud), it was revealed that Christians received permission to hold fixed prayers in the David's Tomb Compound in a secret deal, which breaches the status quo of the site and breaches the law regarding holy sites.

Following Pope Francis's Israel visit in June and controversial Mass prayer services at the site, it was revealed that Christians were regularly holding fixed prayers at the Compound, in the "Room of the Last Supper" on the second floor and even in the very room of King David's Tomb marker.

The institution of regular Christian prayers at the site has been raised by rabbis as a move changing the Compound's status, and one that could prevent Jews from entering the holy site altogether, given that Jewish law forbids entering a Church.

"The danger is no less than that of Muslim Arabs"

Rabbi Shmueli remarked on the danger, comparing it with the very visible and violent threat posed by Muslim Arabs to Jewish access to other sites, such as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

"The Arabs may be coming at us with explosions and the Christians come wearing ties, but they are no less dangerous. The pope already called for the occupation of all the (holy) sites. This is a quiet war by smart people and we must be prepared appropriately," noted the rabbi.

Even during the Gaza operation, Rabbi Shmueli recounted that Jews have been busy trying to maintain their rights to the site.

"There are vatikin prayers (at sunrise); we complete the Psalms three times a day including at midnight; on Friday and Shabbat that's the focal point, and the climax is at the melaveh malka meal (at the end of Shabbat) with a thousand people," said Rabbi Shmueli.

"We need to return the crown of old, like it was before the Six Day War when David's Tomb was like the Kotel (Western Wall) and thousands streamed to it every day," concluded the rabbi, noting the period before the Kotel and eastern Jerusalem was liberated by Israel.