Temple Mount
Temple MountFlash 90

On the Temple Mount visitors are often witness to picnics, weddings – and soccer games, with Arab children competing in a sweaty, curse-filled game at the holiest site in Judaism. Many Jewish visitors have complained to authorities about this, with little intervention on the part of police.

On Monday, Michael Pu'ah, a director of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction of the Likud, filmed a soccer game that took place on the Temple Mount. Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Pu'ah said that he had complained about this a year ago to Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich, who promised to halt the practice “in accordance with orders by the High Court” that such games not be permitted, Pu'ah said.

In addition to the soccer game, Pu'ah said that he had seen a new set of water faucets – installed in the facade of an ancient building. Such “improvement” require the approval of a special committee, but the Muslim caretakers of the site did not inform anyone that they were going ahead with the work, said Pu'ah. Such work is illegal, as it damages valuable archaelogical treasures, said Pu'ah, “but the police continue to ignore the law and to allow the Waqf, the Muslim trust that controls the Mount, to do as it wishes.”

Earlier Monday, the Knesset Interior Committee's Subcommittee on Temple Mount Issues, led by MK David Tzur, held its first meeting. Speaking at the meeting, Temple Mount rights activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who is on a hunger strike because of a police order preventing him from visiting the Mount, said that “Jews on the Temple Mount are subject to being arrested for illegal assembly just for being there, to being victims of riots, and to being forced to flee becase of unrest.”

Glick was detained several weeks ago on the Temple Mount after he videotaped a Muslim man who hurled obscene curses at him. After Glick took photographs on the Mount and shared them on the internet, police confiscated his cellular phone and detained him. Only when he agreed to stop sharing photos did police give back his phone. Since then, he has been banned from the site.

“The Temple Mount is the center of my life,” he told MKs. Glick, a professional guide who takes groups up to the Mount, said that “April is my busiest month. I was supposed to lead 20 groups on a visit, and I had to cancel them all. I am on a hunger strike because I expect the members of the committee to do something about this.”

Despite being the holiest site in Judaism, Jewish access to the Temple Mount is very limited - including a blanket ban on Jewish worship there - in what activists condemn as a capitulation to Muslim extremism. Israeli 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.

Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots - for days or weeks at a time - despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.

The Waqf's campaign to "Islamize" the Temple Mount by purging any Jewish connection to it has also extended to the vandalism and destruction of ancient Jewish artifacts at the site, which once housed the two Holy Temple of Jerusalem.