On Saturday evening, Israel will be celebrating Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) commemorating the 1967 Six-Day War in which Jewish sovereignty returned to the Temple Mount after 2,000 years of exile. Ironically, there is currently a battle being waged to allow Jews to visit the site on that day and if the battle is lost, it will be the first time in 30 years that Jews will be barred from the site on that auspicious day.
A statement from Police’s Jerusalem district posted last week said the Temple Mount would be closed to Jews and tourists “for reasons of public safety and public order.”
Israeli law requires equality of religions at all holy sites however leaves security decisions to the discretion of the police and security establishment. The month-long Ramadan period is frequently a period of increased Muslim violence in Israel. 180,000 Muslims arrived at the Temple Mount on the first Friday of Ramadan and a similar number is expected to do so at the end as well. For this reason, the Israeli police frequently close the Temple Mount to Jews at the end of Ramadan for security considerations. This year, Ramadan ends on Tuesday, June 4, two days after Jerusalem Day.
The last time the Temple Mount was closed to Jews on Jerusalem Day was in 1988, when it also coincided with the end of Ramadan. Last year, more than 2,000 Jews visited the site on Jerusalem Day but the number of Jews visiting the site has increased exponentially in recent years.
Unfortunately, this Ramadan period has already been marred by Muslim violence on the Temple Mount that has gone largely unreported in the press.
The Students for the Temple Mount group responded to the police decision by petitioning the Supreme Court to “disqualify the police’s decision to restrict the right of Jews and other religions to enter the Temple Mount during the month of Ramadan, partially or fully, because it was made in violation of legal authority, without the granting of the right to a lawful hearing and a prohibited, unjustified and disproportionate violation of basic constitutional rights.”
Several media have reported that the petition to the court was rejected but Assaf Fried, Assaf Fried, the spokesman for the Temple Organizations, explained to Breaking Israel News that the issue is not settled and may not be settled until Jerusalem Day arrives.
“There is currently a war being waged over whether or not Jews will be able to visit the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, Fried told Breaking Israel News. “The worst thing you can do in a battle is to give up at the outset. We have not given up.”
“There are many organizations and individuals who are going to great lengths to ensure that the gates will be open,” Fried said. “It is not a decision the police came to easily. The security establishment has gone to great lengths to ensure the religious rights of Muslims as well as Jews even when the easiest solution would have been to shut the Temple Mount down to one or both.”
Fried speculated that a final decision would be made in the final moments based on the reality of the situation as it develops. He noted that the Palestinians and the Muslim Waqf are moving forward and establishing facts on the ground as they did just a few months ago when rioters took over an area adjacent to the Golden Gate.
“In any case, we are celebrating 52 years since the Jews returned to our holiest site,” Fried said. “It is of utmost importance for every Jew to come to Jerusalem and to ascend to the Temple Mount if it is permitted. If we relinquish that right, we have relinquished the Temple Mount and our future as a nation.”