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Israel’s highest court late last night rejected a petition by a Jewish group to hold a protest today at the Temple Mount about reclaiming the site from its Islamic custodians, pronouncing the rally a “security threat” and banning it from taking place.
Revava, an organization with the stated mission of ”restoring self-esteem to the state of Israel by restoring national pride and values,” had scheduled a gathering for this afternoon near the Mount’s Lion’s Gate courtyard to demand Jewish sovereignty over the heavily restricted site.
Israelis today mark their country’s victory in the Six Day War and its liberation of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount from Jordanian control. The protest was to call for the opening of the holy site for Jewish prayer. The Mount is currently under an Islamic custodianship that bans all non-Muslim worship.
Jerusalem police told Revava Thursday they would not allow the protest to go ahead, explaining they feared it could cause Arab violence. The Jewish group quickly petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court in hopes of holding the rally as scheduled.
But in a ruling delivered last night, the Supreme Court sided with the city police and told the Jewish group it could not gather at the Mount today. The Court cited Palestinian threats of violence and the police department’s claim they could not provide adequate security for the event.
“Our intelligence is changing from day to day. We do not want to allow a situation of violence to take place, so we told the court to ban the rally,” 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 director David Ha’ivri told WND, “It is most disappointing that on a day to commemorate Israel’s liberating of the Temple Mount 38 years ago, the Jewish government of Israel refuses to allow our rally today. We plan on continuing to push forward our agenda until Israel lets Jews pray at our holiest site.”
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.
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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.