“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
Violating Israeli law guaranteeing freedom of worship, the Israeli Police Monday morning erected a new sign at the visitors’ entrance to the Temple Mount strictly forbidding any kind of prayer and enforcing a set of stringent restrictions on dress, behavior and the bringing of religious items in order to “respect the holiness of the site.”
The Israeli Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the rights of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in all of Judaism and the third most holy site in Islam.
Though the issue is a difficult one due to the controversial nature of the site, complete freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Israeli Declaration of Independence and the Israeli Knesset’s Basic Laws. Attempts by the Israeli Police to curtail this right on the Temple Mount have been defeated several times in court.
Nevertheless, Israeli Police enforce their own rules on the Temple Mount, closely monitoring Jewish visitors to prevent any kind of visible prayer, escorting any “violators” off the Mount and occasionally arresting and banning Jews from the holy site. Muslim prayer, however, is freely allowed.
Although the sign does not specify non-Muslim prayer, it is clearly aimed solely at Israelis and tourists. It is written in Hebrew and English – not Arabic – and it is posted only at the visitors’ gate and not at the multiple Temple Mount entrances used by Muslims.
Rabbi Yehuda Glick, founder of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and a world renowned Temple Mount activist, expressed his dismay at the decision to erect the sign.
“We cannot understand why the police have adopted the radical Muslim narrative of the sanctity of the Temple Mount to Muslims only,” he told Breaking Israel News. “We will continue to convince public opinion and decision makers that Jews deserve human rights in the capital of their sovereign state too.”
Recently, Israeli Police closed the Temple Mount to non-Muslims for the month of Ramadan, leading to protests and demonstrations by activists calling for an end to discrimination against Jews at the site. Though the site has since re-opened, the police remain resolute against allowing Jewish prayer on the Mount.
Update: After many reader requests, below is a translation of the sign.
You are entering the sacred site of the Temple Mount. Therefore, you must respect the holiness of the site and maintain security and order as required by law.
-Entrance to the Temple Mount complex necessitates a security check-in. You must abide by the directions of the police on the Temple Mount and act in accordance to their rules in every matter.
-It is forbidden to enter with firearms or any other defensive or assault weapons.
-Entrance to the Temple Mount must be in modest attire.
-Any acts of demonstration/protest on the Temple Mount area, as well as entering with any signs, flags, or other objects used for acts of demonstration/protest are forbidden.
-Religious/ritual acts that are outwardly visible are forbidden.
-Entering with sacred or other objects used for religious/ritual activity is forbidden.
-Entering with alcoholic beverages or anything that resembles them is forbidden.
-It is forbidden to remove dirt, stones or the like from the Temple Mount complex.
-In cases of doubt concerning these rules, you must ask permission from the police.
Wishing you a pleasant visit,
Israeli Police – David Division