Palestinian youth spending the night on Temple Mount 370.
(photo credit: Joint Committee of Temple Organizations)
The Joint Committee of Temple Organizations condemned on Wednesday the closure
of the Temple Mount to non- Muslim visitors for the last two weeks of
According to the committee, an association of right-wing groups
seeking to assert Jewish prayer rights as well as Israeli sovereignty on the
Temple Mount, access to the site during the Muslim holy month has always been
granted in previous years, although on a slightly reduced scale compared to the
rest of the year.
Outside of Ramadan, the Temple Mount is usually open to
non-Muslims for three hours every morning and one hour in the afternoon, while
during Ramadan it has previously been open only in the morning.
year, however, all access to non-Muslim visitors has been prohibited in the two
final weeks of Ramadan.
According to Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a spokesman for
the committee, in previous years the Temple Mount has been open in the morning
to non- Muslims for the entirety of Ramadan.
Glick attributed the change
in policy to a new phenomenon in which hundreds of Palestinian youths have slept
at the site during this year’s Ramadan.
This year, the site was open in
the morning for the first two weeks, although Jewish visitors were harassed and
verbally abused, which led the police to evacuate them on several
In one such incident, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin
visited the Temple Mount but was forced to leave by police due to threats and
harassment by Muslims at the site.
The Temple Mount was also closed to
non-Muslims for the fast of Tisha Be’av, the day before Elkin’s
Although the site has been open sporadically during the past two
weeks, it was closed by police on Thursday.
On Sunday a notice was posted
at the entrance to the Mugrabi Gate, the only entrance for non-Muslims to the
Temple Mount, saying that visitation for Jews and other tourists was not
possible on that day.
The same message was posted for Monday, while the
police informed the committee that because of the fact that “thousands of
Muslims are staying the night at the site for the last 10 days of Ramadan, the
Temple Mount will not be opened tomorrow [Tuesday] for visitors.”
Tuesday, the police informed the committee that entrance for non-Muslims would
not be possible until after Id al-Fitr, the festival ending Ramadan.
committee issued a statement to the press asking why the police was not willing
to preserve public order at the site.
“Is the police not able to protect
the [public] order on the Temple Mount? Why does the police not ban the dozens
of Muslims responsible for disturbances, just like it permanently bans Jews who
pray at the site?” the group asked.
Non-Muslims are prevented by the
police from praying at the site, out of concern that it would create tensions
with Muslim worshipers.
The police have issued bans against individuals
found to be praying at the Temple Mount.
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the
director of the Temple Institute and a prominent advocate of prayer rights on
the Temple Mount, was banned last year from the site, following a visit during
which he was videoed praying.
“Why have the police not arrested those
causing the disturbances? Why do the police not create Jewish-only prayer
times?” the committee asked.
The police did not respond to inquiries
about the claim that this is the first year the Temple Mount has not been
accessible during Ramadan.
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