Hundreds of Jewish protesters sought on Sunday to prevent a group of Greek Orthodox Christians from entering the complex housing the sites where Jewish tradition says lies the tomb of King David and Christian tradition holds is the site of Jesus’s last supper.
The protesters gathered by the site in Jerusalem’s Old City and conducted a mass prayer service and study session in an effort to block access to the building.
A police spokeswoman for the Jerusalem region said that despite the efforts to prevent the Christian worshipers from entering, the police managed to ensure that they were able to gain access and conduct their religious ceremony.
No one was arrested during the incident, the spokeswoman said.
The tomb of King David is in a lower room of the complex while the site of the Last Supper is in a separate room above.
Protests by Jewish radicals have intensified in recent years against Christian services in the complex. The status quo since the establishment of the state has been to allow Christian ceremonies at the site three times a year, including for the Pentecost holiday, which was celebrated by the Orthodox Church on Sunday.
According to one of the organizers, Yehudah Puah, the protesters gathered “to prevent the desecration of King David’s tomb by an idolatrous ceremony of the Greek Church.”
Although protesters came from a mix of Jewish sectors, there were many members of one branch of the Breslov hassidic community who had come en masse to the demonstration.
One strong supporter of efforts to block Christian access to the site is Jerusalem Municipality council member Arieh King. He told the B’hadrei Haredim ultra-Orthodox news website that “we have gathered here to sanctify God’s name. The debasement of this holy place will not be allowed to take place.”
King refused to speak to The Jerusalem Post
on the matter and disconnected a telephone call when quizzed on the incident.
Writing on his Facebook page, however, he said that “the Greek Church is seeking to offend the feelings of Jews and to hold an idolatrous ceremony on the grave of our king, King David. I canceled all my meetings and plans in order to take part in the mass prayer service and study session until this evil decree [of the Christian ceremony] is canceled.”sign up to our newsletter