Three Jews detained for praying on Temple Mount

Jewish prayer rights at holy site remain contentious political and social issue.

October 11, 2013 00:05
2 minute read.
Arrest [illustrative].

Arrest [illustrative] 370. (photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)


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Three Israeli men were detained and questioned by police Thursday morning for illegally praying on the Temple Mount.

According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the men were part of a larger group visiting the site.

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“They began praying and were removed and questioned for not following the guidelines,” said Rosenfeld.

Although the Supreme Court has upheld Jewish prayer rights at the site – which is overseen by the Wakf Muslim religious trust – the court allows police to prevent any form of worship there if they believe such activities will incite a “disturbance to the public order.”

This caveat has resulted in a contentious debate among religious Jews and the government, as any form of prayer among Jews there – including simply moving their lips to appear to be praying – is considered a “public disturbance” and has resulted in a plethora of detainments.

In April, MK Miri Regev (Likud), who was appointed to chair the Knesset Interior and Environmental Affairs Committees, created controversy when she said she intended to tour the Temple Mount with Interior Committee members to further the possibility of legalizing Jewish prayer there.

“Jews can pray at the Temple Mount,” said Regev, who could play a pivotal part in changing long-standing legislation barring Jewish visitors from praying at the site.

Regev has insisted that she will not hesitate to address the heated issue head on.

“I don’t understand why a Jew is not allowed to pray in the most sacred place for him,” she said. “I intend to soon tour there, with an emphasis on freedom of Jewish prayer.”

In response, MK Michal Roisin (Meretz) warned that Regev’s words could sabotage the peace process and ignite a “third intifada.”

“This is a low attempt, and a cynical use of religion for political purposes, to sabotage the peace process,” said Roisin.

Roisin warned that it was just such an initiative by former prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2000 that ignited the second intifada.

“MK Regev seems to be all too happy to launch a third intifada,” Roisin said. “It’s up to the prime minister to immediately stop such an initiative.”

She continued: “The Temple Mount issue will only be resolved through a peace agreement that will recognize it as a sacred place for the three religions – and only then can we allow all three religions to respectfully pray there and carry out their beliefs with pluralism, equality and mutual respect.”

Still, a number of mainstream Jews from around the globe have increasingly expressed great consternation that Jews – including members of Knesset – are prevented from going to the Temple Mount to pray.

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