Two IDF soldiers touring the Temple Mount on Israeli Independence Day were banned from future visits after the soldiers apparently saluted at the holy site.
The two soldiers, who were in uniform at the time, apparently saluted when they passed by the former Holy of Holies site on the Temple Mount, Israel National News reported. The Holy of Holies refers to the inner sanctuary of the Jewish Temple where God is believed to have dwelt, and was the location where the Ark of the Covenant was kept during the First Temple period. The site is currently believed to be located within the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine.
At the end of the tour, the soldiers were apparently told by police they may not return to the site.
“Freedom of Jews in a Jewish state in the land of Israel requires that every citizen be allowed access to every place without any restrictions,” said attorney Haim Bleicher, of the Israeli legal organization Honenu, who is representing the banned soldiers. “It doesn’t make sense that IDF soldiers who come to the holiest site on Independence Day should be barred from entering for no reason. This restriction has no basis and we will take legal action against it.”
Under the terms of the Temple Mount’s status quo agreement between the Israeli government and the Jordanian-run Islamic Waqf, Jewish and other non-Muslim visitation at the holy site is restricted to certain days and times. Further, non-Muslim worship is banned at the site.