Non-Muslim visitors allowed onto Judaism’s most holy site for 1st time since end of Ramadan.
Temple activists say police closing Mount to Jews was unnecessary, asking for site’s opening ahead of Jewish High Holidays. ‘It’s our basic right & it must be respected,’ their representative tells Knesset committee.
By Kobi Nachshoni
Dozens of Jews on visited the Temple Mount on Sunday morning as it was opened to tourists for the first time since the end of the month of Ramadan and the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr last week.
Temple activists are accusing the police of closing the Mount unnecessarily throughout most of the month of Ramadan, including for two whole weeks, thus discriminating against non-Muslims seeking to visit the site.
The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee discussed the matter on Sunday morning, despite the parliament recess, as well as the prayer ban imposed on Jews at the holy site throughout the entire year. Yehuda Glick of Organization of Temple Movements said the Mount had been closed to Jews for 21 days last month.
According to Glick, the situation affected some 1,000 foreign tourists who missed the highlight of their visit to Israel, as well as two Knesset members – Zeev Elkin (Likud Beiteinu) and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) – who were not allowed into the Mount.
“We are just before the holiday season, and our experience shows that there are thousands of Jews who wish to visit the Temple Mount during the intermediate days of Sukkot, but time and again we reach a situation in which they are blocked,” said Glick, calling on the police to commit to allowing every person to do so during defined visiting hours.
“Prepare in advance, so that you can’t say that there are too many visitors or that it’s a sensitive situation,” he added. “You’re not doing the Jews a favor. It’s our basic right and it must be respected –without disrespecting anyone else of course.”
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