Tag Archives: Jerusalem

What’s going on underneath the Temple Mount?

The state comptroller has been severely critical of the way in which authorities have dealt with the developments of recent years on the Temple Mount, but the report he authored on the subject has not been cleared for publication.

The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount

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Photo credit: AFP

Jerusalem mayor urges residents: ‘Carry your weapons’

Nir Barkat says that civilians with ‘operational combat experience’ can help foil terror attacks and increase residents’ confidence.

Yael Friedson, Noam (Dabul) Dvir//Against the background of a deteriorating security situation which has in recent days spread from Jerusalem and the West Bank to other parts of the country, more and more voices are being heard calling on citizens to carry guns every day to deal with attacks that might take place near them.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat at crime scene (Photo: Tazpit)
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat at crime scene (Photo: Tazpit)

“One advantage that Israel has is that there are quite a few ex-members of military units with operational combat experience,” Barkat

said. “Possessing weapons increases the confidence of residents, who know that in addition to police there are many people who are not afraid to intervene. If we look at the statistics in Jerusalem and elsewhere, we see that aside from the police, civilians carrying weapons have foiled terror attacks. They will increase the likelihood of fast intervention.”

This week Israel’s Channel 1 broadcast images of Barkat touring the East Jerusalem neighborood of Issawiya with a weapon, saying he wanted to set an example during tense periods. “I don’t carry it every day and everywhere I go, only in conflict areas,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Commander of the Ashdod police station, Chief Superintendent Noam Shekel, also called on residents who have a weapons permit to carry them.

 

 

Muslims harass Congressmen visiting Temple Mount

Temple Mount

Men wearing shirts with Waqf insignia then repeatedly interrupted the guide and tried to grab his diagrams and maps. The guide responded that he is doing nothing illegal and will only stop if told to do so by police.

“Our guide was very respectful but very appropriately strong in his convictions. He was not confrontational, but handled it very appropriately,” Jenkins said.

Soon after, 15-20 men began to harass the group, interrupting the tour guide, shouting and pointing, and once again police had to break up the commotion.

The guide “let us know that men running around with walkie-talkies are not the final authority,” Jenkins recounted. “Despite the screaming and shouting and pointing of men with walkie-talkies, the police were able to exercise their authority and let us proceed comfortably.”

For the rest of their visit to the Temple Mount, the group was followed by Muslim men.

EJ Kimball, Director of US Operations for the Israel Allies Foundation said the Congressional delegation “wasn’t doing anything controversial, no one was even wearing a yarmulke. [The Muslims on the Mount] did a good job of making everyone feel very uncomfortable just for being up there as a non-Muslim.”

On their way out, the delegation saw a group of Jewish visitors confronted by a Muslim group crowding around them and shouting Allahu Akbar. The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel pays Murbitat, meaning protectors of holy places, who harass non-Muslim visitors, thousands of shekels every month. The groups of Murbitat are often led by women dressed head-to-toe in black, with their faces covered.

Jenkins said he had mixed emotions after the visit to the Temple Mount.

“It was a place of great religious meaning to me as a Christian, a destination…that me and my wife were looking forward to, and then to have the confrontation from the Muslims who yelled and shouted at us and my wife individually…To literally step on the Temple Mount and be confronted was certainly shocking,” Jenkins recounted.

The Congressman from West Virginia called the experience “unsettling,” saying that “in America we watch conflict around the world on the evening news. It’s unfortunate to walk on to the Temple Mount and see conflict not half a world away, but feet away.”

Jenkins said that he believes in tolerance and acceptance of all religions, but that is not what he saw at a site that is so religiously significant.

As a Christian raised on the stories of the Bible and New Testament, Franks said visiting the mount was “exhilarating and meaningful beyond words,” but that the experience was marred by the harassment, “a reminder of challenges both in micro and macro that the people of Israel face every day.”

“I wish it was something the world understood more and was more aware of,” Franks said. “Even when visiting a historical site there is harassment, because of people who want to rewrite history.”

Franks added that, while he does not question Israeli policies because they have experience in dealing with the problems on the Temple Mount, he found that “in general, when there is a lack of resolve in protecting religious freedoms, it emboldens those who have no compunction about suppressing it.”

When asked if he felt his freedom of expression was violated, Rothfus said “certainly.”

“We weren’t doing anything religious. We were learning the history of the Temple Mount,” he stated.

Rothfus plans to share his experience, and said of the harassers: “Maybe the folks who were behaving like this might want to do some self-examination. They really are not presenting themselves as very good ambassadors for their cause.”

The purpose of the delegation’s trip to the Middle East is “to gain a better perspective of the opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal and the increased cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors against shared threats from jihadist groups,” Kimball said. The group traveled to Egypt before Israel, where the Congressmen met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after its trip to the Temple Mount.

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