Dov Lior, a leading rabbi in Israel, is calling on Jews to place a greater emphasis on the Temple Mount and the Jewish laws.
Lior, who heads the Council of Yesha Rabbis, said during a rabbinical conference sponsored by the Ariel Institute and the Chief Rabbinate that ascending the Temple Mount while adhering to the Torah laws governing such a visit can “save us from our enemies.”
Rabbi Shar Yashuv Cohen, chief rabbi of Haifa and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Rabbinical Council said the ban on Jews and other non-Muslims ascending the Temple Mount no longer exists although the Chief Rabbinate has yet to officially “endorse” such visits.
Police yesterday detained five Jews after they attempted to pray on the Temple Mount. Currently, non-Muslims are permitted to visit the site but are forbidden to pray. Israeli police enforce the ban imposed by the Islamic Waqf Authority, despite the site being holy to the Jewish people, the location of the First and Second Temples.
Last August, Israeli police clashed with Muslims on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem after the compound was reopened to Christians and Jews. Police kicked and beat some protesters with batons while Arab children threw stones at the officers.
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, who appoints the Muslim clergy responsible for day-to-day administration of the site, ordered the site closed to non-Muslim visitors when riots erupted between police and Muslim worshippers a day after Ariel Sharon, now the Israeli prime minister, visited in September 2000 – a visit Arafat used to rationalize the current terrorist uprising, or intifada, that has resulted in more than 5,000 casualties.
Last summer, the Israeli government announced it would reopen the complex to Jewish and Christian visitors for two hours every morning. The Waqf, or Muslim council, objected, complaining it was not consulted.
The compound is known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, having been the site of two biblical Jewish temples. To Muslims it is the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary. Within the complex is the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque.