Desecration at Mount of Olives
Desecration at Mount of Olives Itamar Oren

Members of the Knesset Interior Committee on Thursday will conduct a special tour of the Mount of Olives in order to examine up close the security arrangements there.

The tour comes after hundreds of complaints by Jewish visitors to the huge cemetery located on the Mount of rock-throwing attacks by Arabs, and vandalism of the graves of loved ones.

The tour will be led by MK Miri Regev, chairperson of the Committee, as well as other MKs. Police officials will also be on the tour in order to provide security, as well as answers on security arrangements. Also participating will be representatives of the International Committee for the Protection of the Mount of Olives in Israel, Jeff Daube and Harvey Schwartz.

Instead of conducting a cursory tour of the area, the MKs plan to remain at several key locations for a lengthy period of time at critical junctures in order to see first-hand what the security issues are.

According to Schwartz and Daube, police do precious little to defend Jews who wish to visit the Mount of Olives, and Jewish activists have had enough of police inaction over attacks by Arabs on Jews attempting to visit graves or pray at the site.

The two met earlier this year with now-President Reuven Rivlin on the matter, explaining that attacks against Jews actually began long before they arrived at the cemetery; as Jews drove through the Maale Zeitim area (Ras el-Amud), they were attacked by Arabs on a regular basis.

Despite the fact that police recently opened a station in the area, there was almost no police enforcement whatsoever in the area, and Arabs had a free hand to harass Jews and desecrate graves at the cemetery.

Rivlin told the pair that his own parents were buried at the site, and he was well aware of the problems there. He promised to assist Jewish groups seeking to ensure safe worship for Jews at the site, and to work with police to ensure real security in the area.

“Tens of thousands of Jews are buried on the Mount of Olives, and it is a symbol for Jews around the world,” Rivlin said. “We cannot have a situation where Jews cannot ascend the Mount of Olives and pray there without interference. We must do everything to achieve security there,” he added.