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JERUSALEM – A group that led a Jewish protest at the Temple Mount in hopes of reclaiming the site from its Islamic custodians, sparking worldwide Muslim protests, is planning another rally in spite of police objections, the group’s leader told WND this morning.
Revava, an organization with the stated mission of ”restoring self-esteem to the state of Israel by restoring national pride and values,” in conjunction with other Temple Mount activist organizations, has scheduled a gathering Monday near the Mount’s Damascus Gate courtyard to demand Jewish sovereignty over the heavily restricted site.
Monday marks Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, and the liberation of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount from Jordanian control.
“We will again bring people to the mount area. We’ll commemorate Israel’s reclaiming of the Temple Mount and stress that it is the holiest site for the Jews and that Jews must be allowed to pray there unrestricted,” said Revava director David Ha’ivri.
But the Jerusalem police have told Ha’ivri they will not allow the protest to go ahead.
“The gathering was not coordinated with the police … we won’t let them go up to Temple Mount and we won’t let them have a ceremony,” Jerusalem police spokesman Shmulik Ben Ruby told WND
The last Revava rally, which took place April 10, required the Israeli police to station 3,500 officers at checkpoints and entrances throughout the Old City, the walled section of Jerusalem that houses the Temple Mount. About 200 Jewish protesters were allowed past the intense security.
April’s rally prompted counter-protests by Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and on the Temple Mount, and by more than 100,000 Muslims in Indonesia and several other Muslim countries.
Revava today filed a petition in Israel’s Supreme Court demanding the right to assemble, but Ha’ivri said his protest will take place even if the request is denied.
“We will go ahead with our plans for Monday,” said Ha’ivri. “We’ve already advertised in communities throughout the country.”
He said Israeli Knesset member Aryeh Eldad, of the religious National Union party, has agreed to speak at the rally.
The Temple Mount was opened to the general public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their planned intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshipers after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.
Following the onset of violence, the new Sharon government closed the Mount to non-Muslims, using checkpoints to control all pedestrian traffic for fear of further clashes with the Palestinians.
The Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslims in August 2003. It is still open but only Sundays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered ”sensitive” by the Waqf, the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount.
During ”open” days, Jews and Christian are allowed to ascend the Mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first to a strict set of guidelines, which includes demands that they not pray or bring any ”holy objects” to the site. Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.
”The situation is simply intolerable,” said Ha’ivri. ”This is a Jewish state. The Temple Mount is Judaism’s most holy site. We’re not going away until Jews can once again pray there unrestricted.”