Israel Police shut down access to the Temple Mount for Jewish visitors on Tuesday until the conclusion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on July 17.
Jewish worshipers who wanted to ascend to the holy site on Tuesday were greeted by a notice saying that the Mount would be off-limits to Jews until the end of Ramadan, Israel Radio reported.
The worshipers who were turned away called the ban a “surrender to terrorism.”
The holiest site in all of Judaism, the Temple Mount has become a hot topic in Israel. Police officials stated that the closure of the compound is not unusual during the Muslim holiday as part of efforts to keep the peace.
Rabbi Yehuda Glick, founder of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and a world-renowned Temple Mount activist seeking to open up access to the holy site for people of all religion, told Breaking Israel News that Israeli Police are setting a dangerous precedent.
“Until five years ago the Temple Mount was closed for Jews for three days of Ramadan. In the past five years it has increased to eight days, then to ten days and this year we reached a sad record – the Temple Mount closed for non- Muslims for twenty days. The police close it because the Muslims threaten that if non-Muslims will enter, there will be violence,” he explained.
“This is a very worrying situation and it expresses what happens when you show any tolerance towards violence – it will always want more. Continuing in this pace, we won’t be surprised if next year the Temple Mount will be closed all of Ramadan and in the future closed completely for visitors,” Glick told Breaking Israel News. “A democratic society must never give in to violence and be determined to protect the civil rights of its civilians and visitors, otherwise the slope will be very steep and, God forbid, endless.”
At the start of the Ramadan holiday, the IDF announced that it would help facilitate the busing-in of Palestinians from across Judea, Samaria and Gaza to pray at the Temple Mount. The unprecedented move was carried out as a sign of good will to the Palestinians.
The Temple Mount is considered the third most holy site in Islam and is controlled by the Muslim Waqf. Jews are forbidden from carrying out any form of religious worship, including praying.
Non-Muslim visitors to the site are physically and verbally harassed by crowds of Palestinian Muslims. Despite various Israeli court rulings allowing Jewish access to the Temple Mount, the Israeli Police have largely ignored the rulings.
A recent report by Students for the Temple Mount highlight the plight of the Temple Mount under Israeli Police and Waqf control. The report revealed the laxity of Israeli Police in checking Muslim worshipers to the site while Jews are forced to undergo invasive security checks.
The report also shows how Waqf and Police officials do almost nothing to prevent or deter the waving of signs and flags of terror groups and chantings of “Death to Israel.”