(photo credit: TAZPIT)
Quiet, dedicated, warm and pure were just some of the words used to describe Rabbi Yehudah Glick, the Temple Mount activist who was shot and severely wounded in Jerusalem on Wednesday night.
Glick has for many years been active in promoting Jewish visitation and prayer rights at the Temple Mount and protesting against the tight restrictions police impose on such activities.
Non-Muslim visitation to the Temple Mount is severely restricted and non-Muslim prayer is prohibited by the Wakf Islamic trust which administers the site, although the Supreme Court has upheld the right to Jewish prayer there, contingent on security considerations.
In practice, a blanket ban on Jewish prayer is in place, enforced by the police which claims that permitting non-Muslim prayer would create severe unrest and security problems in the capital.
Glick set up the Haliba Foundation approximately two years ago to campaign for Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, including political lobbying, and to encourage Israelis to visit the site in greater numbers.
Indeed, increasing numbers of Orthodox people, mainly from the national-religious community, have begun visiting the Temple Mount in recent years, largely due to the activities of the various Temple Mount rights organizations, including Glick’s.
In addition to his campaigning efforts, the rabbi, who lives in the settlement of Otniel in Judea, gives weekly guided tours on the Mount to visitors but frequently encounters opposition from Muslims and the police.
Shmuel Ben-Hamo, a fellow activist who accompanies Glick on his visits, described him as a dedicated man with a passion for his cause of securing prayer rights at the site.
“Yehuda works very quietly, he doesn’t engage in provocations, he doesn’t look for headlines, he just works in his own dignified manner for his cause which is so close to his heart,” Ben-Hamo said. “You can often see him speaking with Arabs on the Temple Mount, you can even see a video of him on YouTube reciting verses from the Koran with them.”
Ben-Hamo said that Glick nevertheless faces intense provocations when he visits the site.
“Whenever he goes up to there, there are problems. The Arabs spit on him, shove him, throw stones at him, swear at him in Hebrew and Arabic, and try and drown him out when he’s speaking to one of the groups he guides. But he never responds to them, shoves back or swears, because he’s not that kind of person he is.”
Glick has been arrested several times on the Temple Mount and is currently subject to a police restraining order banning him from visiting the site.
In December 2013, however, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that he had been wrongfully arrested on at least two occasions, and ordered the police to pay him NIS 30,000 in compensation.
Arnon Segel, a journalist for the Mekor Rishon newspaper who covers Temple Mount issues, described Glick as “full of life and energy, full of warmth, and someone I have been greatly honored to know.”
Segel said that Glick was “totally nonviolent, despite the violence directed toward him at the site,” and said that the restraining orders placed on the rabbi at various times were tools police used in an effort to hinder his efforts.
Glick previously served for five years as the director of the Temple Institute, an educational and activist group that has constructed vessels for use in a future Temple on the site, but stepped down in order to concentrate on prayer rights activities on the Temple Mount.
Rabbi Chaim Richman, international director of the Temple Institute, described Glick on Thursday as “a selfless champion of the right for Jews to pray at the Temple Mount,” and accused the government and the police of failing to take action against violence and “unbridled and heinous expressions of Jew-hatred” at the site.