tourists visit mt. of olives 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Police must work to stop attacks on mourners and visitors on the Mount of Olives, the Knesset Interior Committee said Wednesday.
Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev called a meeting on the topic in light of a growing number of attacks on Jews visiting the holy site and historic cemetery, which is still in use.
MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) said rocks were thrown at him last time he ascended the mountain.
Jeff Daube, head of the International Committee for the Preservation of the Mount of Olives’ Israel Steering Committee and director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Israel office, said after the meeting that the violence comes mostly from teens living in nearby Isawiya and the intensity of rock throwing increases when they are attending school atop the mountain.
“We should guarantee the safety of every visitor and every mourner,” Daube said.
Daube explained that “this is really about sovereignty over Jerusalem and we favor Israel maintaining sovereignty over a unified Jerusalem.
The Mount of Olives is strategically located from that point of view.”
International Committee chairman Harvey Schwartz told the Interior Committee that “world Jewry will not be silent until the situation on the Mount of Olives is quiet.”
Schwartz added that this is not the first time the Knesset discussed this matter, but there was no progress and the police are not sufficiently active in stopping the violence.
“The importance of this site to the Jewish People is tremendous,” MK Hilik Bar (Labor) said. “Hundreds and thousands of people should visit it everyday.”
Bar warned that the police “cannot wait until an extreme case in which God forbid someone is killed. It’s clear that something like that will bring violent rioting.”
MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas) expressed outrage that the law is not being enforced on the Mount of Olives.
“It’s the police’s job to take care of security at the site. If they don’t, we’ll bring in the army,” MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said.
Regev closed the meeting by saying she is disappointed in the police.
“I don’t want to reach a serious situation and then have to say ‘I told you so,’” she said. “Whoever does not have respect for history won’t have a future.”
Regev plans to hold another meeting about the Mount of Olives later this year and invite all of the authorities dealing with the issue.