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3,000 Police "Protecting" Temple Mount

reprinted from Arutz Sheva
11:44 Apr 10, '05 / 1 Nisan 5765

Israel Police arrested close to 15 Jews this morning for trying to pray on the Temple Mount, while hundreds of Moslems under the permitted age snuck onto the holy site over the night.

The police announced last week that they would not allow the Revavah organization to implement its plans to bring 10,000 Jews to the Temple Mount today. Taking no chances, the police closed the site to all Jews today. Revavah spokesmen said, however, that they would not give up their plans to try to reach Judaism's holy site on this, the first day of the month of Nissan.

The police justified the decision to close the holy site to Jews by citing the Arab threats of violence if Jews are permitted on the Mount. Vague fears of a "plot" to destroy the Mosque of Omar and the like were also noted. Revavah leaders ridiculed these explanations, saying that every visitor is thoroughly checked, and that individual suspects could be barred from entry. They further said that the police "caved in" to the Arab threats, instead of dealing with them.

Some 3,000 policemen are stationed in and around the Temple Mount in an effort to contain feared flare-ups.

The police are allowing Moslems onto the Temple Mount, but only those over age 40 with Israeli ID cards. The Jews asked for the same restrictions, but were turned down. Police held up busloads of Arabs this morning outside Lions Gate, and did not let them enter.

Hundreds of Moslems under the permitted age snuck onto the holy site over the night - as did at least one non-Israeli-Arab this morning: The chief of the Hamas terrorist organization in Judea/Samaria, Sheikh Hassan Yusuf. In interviews with Arab television stations from the holy area, Yusuf said that Hamas is committed to retaining quiet, and that he arrived to calm the heated atmosphere - but he also called upon all Moslems to "come to save the Temple Mount from the Jews."

David Ha'Ivri, leader of Revavah, was arrested this morning by police shortly after he entered the Old City this morning. He was accompanied by some 20 Revavah members, who were told to leave the area.

Opponents of the disengagement in Tel Aviv took advantage of the heavy police deployment in the Old City this morning and blocked the main Ayalon Highway in both directions. Police arrived on the scene some ten minutes later and arrested 25 demonstrators, but traffic remained clogged for a while afterwards. Police fear similar scenarios in the months ahead.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch and state-run Israel Radio's talk show commentator Gabi Gazit exchanged barbs against Revavah this morning, calling it a "passing fringe group," and mocking the small number of its members who arrived this morning. Rabbi Rabinovitch said that almost all rabbis forbid Jews from setting foot anywhere on the Mount because of the grave Torah prohibition - punishable by "karet" (cutting off) - against entering the Holy of Holies and nearby areas. Today's ban includes even those areas that have nothing to do with the holy areas - but Rabbi Rabinovitch repeatedly emphasized the "grave 'karet'" prohibition that even observant and knowledgeable Jews flirt with by entering anywhere on the Mount.

Asked if he himself feels any "passion" to be able to ascend to the holy spot, Rabbi Rabinovitch said, "No." He explained that he feels bad the holy site is desolate, "but I have no desire to violate Jewish Law..."

Many rabbis have ruled, in opposition to the Chief Rabbis, that entry to certain known areas of the Temple Mount is permitted after proper precautions have been taken. Haifa's Chief Rabbi, for instance - Chief Rabbinate Council member Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Cohen - recently sent a telegram to Chief Rabbis Amar and Metzger saying he was "surprised and saddened" to learn of their signatures on the "renewed ban on ascent to the Temple Mount [even] in areas that are clearly not the site of the Temple." He noted that the Rabbinate Council dealing with this issue had not yet come to any conclusion. Rabbi Cohen feels that the question is not a Halakhic [Jewish legal] one, but rather "a practical and scientific one. The thousands of yeshiva students, led by the Yesha Rabbis Council, are not suspected of violating Biblical commandments, and they deserve great credit for their selfless dedication and their ascent to the Temple Mount."



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