On Monday afternoon, the day before Israel’s Memorial Day, during which homage is paid to the soldiers who fell while in service to the country, an IDF soldier in uniform was arrested on the Temple Mount for allegedly bowing as he left.
The gesture is one performed by religious Jews upon leaving a holy site, most often when leaving a synagogue or the Western Wall area. The bow was witnessed by Temple Mount Police, who said the act was a form of Jewish worship, which is forbidden on the sacred site.
For years, Jews have not been allowed to pray or utter any Hebrew passage from the Bible while visiting the Temple Mount, under threat of arrest by Israeli police. The police claim that Jewish religious acts will incite Muslims who are on the Mount to unrest, riot and violence.
The Temple Mount, which has been under the control of the Waqf, a Muslim body set up to administer holy sites since 1967, violently enforces the rules and employs older Muslim women to sit by the entrance and exit of the Temple Mount and harass Jews and Christians who come to visit the site.
The women yell, scream and taunt the visitors of other faiths ceaselessly, thereby making it even more difficult for them to focus on their visit.
The rule of the Waqf – that no Jews are allowed to pray on site – is also enforced by the Israeli Police. While the prayer ban was recently struck down in a Jerusalem court in early March, the police have chosen not to enforce the court’s ruling.
A lawyer from the non-profit legal organization Honenu, who often represents soldiers in legal battles, sent Attorney Rehavia Piletz to the police station where the soldier was being held.
In a statement released by Honenu to the media, the organization stated: “A situation in which a soldier of Israel is arrested for showing honor to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, is a disgrace. The fact that such an arrest was made a few days before Israel’s Independence Day is a testament to the moral poverty of the State of Israel and to the leadership in Jerusalem, the nations capital.”