Border Police officers patrol Temple Mount.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed a decree on Tuesday banning the Murabitun and Murabatat Islamist activist groups, which gather on the Temple Mount to disturb and intimidate Jewish visitors to the holy site on a daily basis.
Ya’alon’s office states that the action is in line with a recommendation by the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, and is in accordance with the position of the Israel Police. Ya’alon has become convinced that the step is necessary to protect national security and public order.
The activities of these male and female groups “form a central component in the creation of tension and violence on the Temple Mount in particular, and Jerusalem in general,” the defense minister’s office says. It describes the activists as engaging in “dangerous incitement” against tourists, visitors, and worshipers on the Temple Mount, which leads to violence that could endanger lives.
“The goal of the Murabitun and Murabatat is to undermine Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, change the reality and the existing arrangements, and harm freedom of worship. They are linked to – and are directed by – hostile Islamist organizations,” the defense minister’s office says.
The decree received approval from Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
“Its significance is that from now on, anyone who takes part in Murabiton or Murabatat activities, organizes or finances them, is conducting an illegal act and should expect to stand trial,” the statement says.
Ya’alon adds that Israel “allows freedom of worship to all of its citizens and to the tourists who visit it, irrespective of religion, and it sees this as a basic, central, and important value. But we have no intention of allowing violent elements that incite [to violence] to harm public order and threaten the peace of worshipers – especially in a sensitive and holy site like the Temple Mount.”
In July, speaking after a wave of rioting at the Temple Mount, a security source drew attention to the groups, which maintain a permanent presence on the site, shouting at Jewish worshipers who come to visit the site under heavy police escort.
“The Temple Mount is always explosive,” the source said. “Police try to counteract that. The activities of the Murabitun and Murabatat groups inflame the tensions.”