Thousands of Israelis from across the country converged on the capital Saturday night to participate in the annual march around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem at the beginning of Tisha B’Av.
The event, organized by the Women in Green organization, has been held every year since 1994, and both memorializes the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem and calls for the restoration of full Jewish sovereignty across the Land of Israel.
Following the traditional Tisha B’Av reading of the Book of Lamentations, which took place in Independence Park near the city center, participants marched to the Old City waving Israeli flags, accompanied by a heavy police escort.
A number of prominent speakers spoke at the event, including Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan; Likud MK Yehuda Glick; former National Union MK Aryeh Eldad; Women in Green founders Yehudit Katzover and Nadia Matar; Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Dov Kalmanovitz; Rinah Ariel, the bereaved mother of Hallel-Yaffa Ariel, who was murdered by an Arab terrorist in June; and Rabbi Yosef Mendelvitch, a former Prisoner of Zion in the USSR.
Referencing the discovery of coins minted at the end of the Second Temple period found at the fortress of Gamla on the Golan Heights which bore the phrase “For the Redemption of Jerusalem”, Rabbi Ben-Dahan emphasized the centrality of Israel’s capital to the Jewish nation.
“The fighters of Gamla knew that it is pointless to wage their war without Jerusalem. When they defend the northern part of Israel, they’re defending Jerusalem in the center – the heart, which is everything.”
“We aren’t the only ones who know this, our enemies know it too. There was a reason [Palestinian Authority President] Abu Mazen [a.k.a. Mahmoud Abbas] said that the Temple in Jerusalem never existed; there’s a reason why he makes sure every archeological discovery found linking the Jewish people to the Temple Mount will disappear. He understands that the Temple Mount is the beating heart of the Jewish people. The Temple Mount and the Temple are the heart of the nation of Israel, and without a heart there is no body.”
Rabbi Ben-Dahan added that the rebuilding of Jerusalem would not be complete until the Temple too is rebuilt and the Temple Mount redeemed.
“We are all here to declare that we have returned to Jerusalem and God-willing we will prepare the hearts [of the people] to return to the Temple Mount as well and to rebuild the Temple. We aren’t embarrassed to say it: We want to rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount.”
MK Glick, a notable Temple Mount activist, said the time had come to replace mourning with action.
“For 2,000 years we lived out the verse [in the Book of Lamentations] ‘you shall surely weep at night’. No more! We must stop weeping and start to take action. The founders of the Zionist movement taught us that the Exile was not just a punishment but a sin as well.”
“Today we are in a different place. Anyone who reads the Book of Lamentations cannot possibly think we are still there [in that situation]. We are not under siege and we are not isolated.”