Bennett buckles to Muslim violence, shutters Temple Mount for Jews

April 20, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel’s government, led by Naftali Bennett, has announced that it will block the entry of Jews to the Temple mount for two weeks until the conclusion of the Muslim month of Ramadan, apparently buckling to pressure from his Islamist coalition members, pressure from Arab countries, and violence from Muslim rioters at the holy site.

Jews visit the Temple Mount compound, site of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Oct. 8, 2017. Photo by Yaakov Lederman/Flash90.

After facing threats of toppling the government from the Islamist Ra’am party, after the condemnation of Israel’s presence on the Temple Mount from Arab countries, and after threats of attacks by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, Bennett has decided to ban the entry of Jews to the Temple Mount for two weeks, starting this weekend.

While the Temple Mount is usually closed to Jews during the last few days of Ramadan, closing the holy site for Jews for two weeks is apparently unprecedented.

Responding to the apparent infringement on Jews’ basic rights of freedom of worship, Member of Knesset Betzalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism) stated Tuesday that “against the backdrop of Arab violence and the false incitement of the Jordanians and Turks, Bennett and [Ayelet] Shaked’s decision to close the Temple Mount to Jews until the end of Ramadan is a security and political nonsense that actually acknowledges the Arab lie as if the Jews are to blame for the current escalation.”

“How we warned against the formation of a government that would rely on the Islamic movement and the abandonment of Israel’s security in its hands. Bennett and Shaked are harming the State of Israel and endangering it politically and security-wise for their political survival which now depends on Walid Taha [of Ra’am] and the Shura Council of the Islamic Movement,” he said.

“In the morning Bennett attacks the Jordanians and in the evening confirms their false claim and succumbs to their rude demands,” he added.

MK Itamar Ben Gvir stated that “the closure of the Temple Mount for the Jews, the holiest place for the people of Israel, is a victory for Hamas, for terrorism, for the riots conducted by our enemies. Bennett this evening gave an award to the enemy and the keys of the state to the Shura Council. This hallucinatory decision will cost us blood. Surrendering to the enemy only increases terrorism.”

Temple Mount activists stated that Bennett’s decision is a difficult step backward from the progress made in recent years, and surrender to the terror on the Temple Mount.”

They called on Bennett to “come to his senses, eliminate terrorism from the Temple Mount, and allow the Jews to ascend to the holy place throughout the year and at all hours of the day.”

Jews’ visits to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, are limited in time, space, as well as the number of visitors at any given time. While Jews’ rights to worship at the site have improved in recent years, much remains wanting, and the full freedom of worship has yet to be granted by the State of Israel to Jews visiting the Temple Mount.

On several occasions, Jews have been banned from the Temple Mount following Muslim agitation, or following fears that a Jewish presence at the site would agitate the Muslims.

While Muslims enter the holy site freely, Jews are screened by metal detectors, undergo security searches, and are banned from bringing Jewish religious objects to the site.

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