L to R: Shalom Lerner, Omer Bar-Lev, Uzi Dayan
L to R: Shalom Lerner, Omer Bar-Lev, Uzi DayanInternational Committee for Har Hazeitim

Two leading IDF figures, Major General Uzi Dayan (Res.) and Colonel (Aluf Mishne) Omer Bar-Lev, were reunited on Wednesday December 22nd at a meeting with the International Committee for Har Hazeitim (ICHH), led by Shalom Lerner, its Executive Director.

The meeting to discuss security issues on the Mount of Olives (Har Hazeitim) was held in the office of Omer Bar-Lev, Israel’s Minister of Internal Security.

At the meeting, the ICHH raised the need for increased security on the 3,000-year-old cemetery and holy site and particularly focused on the soon to be built Visitor Education Center which will include a state-of-the-art police station.

Representing the ICHH was Mr. Lerner and Major General Uzi Dayan who is a prominent member of the Israel Board of the ICHH.

The two former high-ranking officers shared the opinion that the Center will be one of the most important buildings to be built in that area in centuries. The security on the mountain will be greatly enhanced by the large numbers of visitors who are expected visit the holy mountain which includes nearly 150,000 Jews that are buried there, including the leaders of the Jewish nation dating back to the Nevi’im.

Minister Bar Lev was the commander of the Sayeret Matkal elite commando unit between 1984 and 1987. He reported directly to Maj. General Uzi Dayan, who is a nephew of the late Israeli politician and military hero Moshe Dayan.

Uzi Dayan served in the Sayeret Matkal from 1966 to 2002 and subsequently became the commander of the unit. In addition, he was the head of the IDF’s Central Command, Deputy Chief of Staff, and headed the Israeli National Security Council (2000–2002). He was until recently a member of the Knesset for the Likud party.

Following the meeting, Minister Bar-Lev posted his summary of the meeting: “I met today with my former commander Uzi Dayan and with Shalom Lerner, the Executive Director of the International Committee for Har Hazeisim (ICHH). They briefed me on the security situation and their plans to build a Visitor Center on the Mount of Olives. In my eyes, the cemetery on the Mount of Olives is a historic heritage site for the Jewish people and for Israel. We agreed that once the Center goes up that we will work together to assure the safety of the expected large number of visitors.”

In summarizing the meeting, Mr. Lerner said that "once again we see how the Mount of Olives is in the consensus and unites leaders of both sides of the political aisles – left and right."

Thanks to the ICHH, founded in 2010 by Menachem and Avraham Lubinsky, the desecration of graves was virtually halted, attributed to a network of 176 surveillance cameras, gating, a police station, and the deployment of Border Patrol units. The changed security situation has prompted renewed visits to the mountain by families and a resurgence of a demand for tours to this holy site.