Bennett buckles, shutters Temple Mount for Jews

“This hallucinatory decision will cost us blood. Surrendering to the enemy only increases terrorism.”

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The 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 and Arab countries and violence from Muslim rioters at the holy site.

Following threats from the Islamist Ra’am party to topple the government, condemnation of Israel’s presence on the Temple Mount from Arab countries and attacks by Gaza-based terrorist groups Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, Bennett announced that Jews are banned from entering 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 to Jews for two weeks is apparently unprecedented.

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

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“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 he confirms their false claim and succumbs to their rude demands,” he added.

MK Itamar Ben Gvir (Religious Zionism) said 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.”

Jewish activists fighting for equal rights for non-Muslims on the Temple Mount said that Bennett’s decision is “a difficult step backward from the progress made in recent years and surrender to terror.”

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.”

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Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, are limited in time, space, and 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 full freedom of worship has yet to be granted by the State of Israel to Jews visiting the holy site.

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