Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai warned on Thursday that Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman and other Temple Mount activists could spark a new war with the Palestinians by performing the Biblical commandment of blowing a shofar in Jerusalem.
Sources told Haaretz that Shabtai called Rothman’s mitzvah a “provocation for its own sake, purely to inflame the area,” adding that “what he’s doing will lead us to the second Guardian of the Walls,” adding that Jews blowing the shofar in that section of Jerusalem could “ignite the Middle East.”
Guardian of the Walls was an IDF operation in response to Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing over 4,360 from Gaza, targeting Israeli centers of population. The Hamas attacks were accompanied by Palestinian violence in Israeli cities including Jerusalem, Akko, and Jaffa.
Despite Israeli law mandating religious freedom and equality on the Temple Mount, the Israeli police limit Jewish visitation to the site and prohibit all visible Jewish practices. Due to record numbers of Jews visiting their holiest site, Jews are permitted to pray, but without tallit and tefillin and without a Torah scroll. Jews are prohibited from visiting the site at night or on Shabbat.
Though the Israeli police are required by law to protect Jewish rights to pray at their holiest site, the law allows the police to restrict this right for security considerations. Palestinians have carried out violent riots at the site in order to prevent religious equality. The police have capitulated to this violence.
The story began last month when Rabbi Yehudah Glick was arrested for playing a recording of a shofar on his cellphone. Two weeks later, Rabbi Glick, Tom Nisani, and Temple Mount activist Emanuel Brosh were detained by the Israeli police for blowing the shofar at the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount. The location is outside the walls of the ancient city.
The police have pursued an aggressive policy of arresting and charging Jews for blowing the shofar in the area east of the Temple Mount. The courts have ruled against the police in every case and have even fined the police. The police have also filed for restraining orders that would prohibit those Jews from entering the Old City of Jerusalem. The courts have rejected these requests outright.
Last Tuesday morning, the eve of Yom Kippur, Knesset Members Simcha Rothman, and Michal Waldiger arrived at the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount to blow the shofar.
This was the second time in just over a week that MK Rothman has come to the site to blow the shofar. Police arrested three others for blowing the shofar at the site despite a court ruling that they have every right to do so. Rothman has avoided arrest due to his parliamentary immunity.
Brosh explained to Israel365 News that the police were enforcing an unwritten policy of prohibiting any Jewish practices in areas to the east of the Western Wall. This would be a de facto policy of dividing Jerusalem and surrendering the eastern section to an exclusive Muslim monopoly.
The site has been described in the media as an Arab cemetery but until recently, it was a site designated for Jewish prayer. In 2009, it was discovered the Arabs had begun burying their dead adjacent to the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount, in between centuries-old Jewish graves and the Temple Mount.
On his Twitter feed, MK Rothman noted that despite being aware of the illegal Arab burials, the police refused to act to prevent this illegal activity which was destructive to the archaeology of the site.
At the same time, authorities caught Arabs preparing fake Muslim graves at the site, graves which contained no human remains, an action that can only be an attempt to distance Jews from being buried in the spot where the resurrection will begin. It has been determined that at least half of the graves at the location are empty with fake headstones.