MK’s shofar-blowing ‘provocation’ could trigger war, warns police chief

Police Commissioner warning followed  several incidents in which MK Simcha Rothman blew a shofar in a Muslim cemetery just outside the Temple Mount.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai warned on Thursday that Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman and other Temple Mount activists could spark a new war with the Palestinians, Haaretz reported on Friday.

Shabtai’s warning followed three separate incidents in which Rothman blew a shofar in a Muslim cemetery outside the Jerusalem Old City’s Golden Gate.

The gate, which faces the Mount of Olives and has been sealed shut since the Middle Ages, is the only eastern gate leading up to the Temple Mount. The cemetery was later added by the Ottomans in the belief that the Messiah would not be able to pass through it to enter Jerusalem.

Sources told Haaretz that Shabtai called Rothman’s shofar-blowing a “provocation for its own sake, purely to inflame the area.”

Shabtai reportedly added, “What he’s doing will lead us to the second Guardian of the Walls,” a reference to the 15-day war between Israel and Gaza in 2021.

In one incident on the eve of Yom Kippur, Rothman arrived at the cemetery accompanied by several activists and fellow MK Michal Woldiger. When one of the activists refused to hand over his gun to the police, Rothman grabbed the gun himself, an abuse of his parliamentary immunity, according to a police report cited by Haaretz. Rothman only gave the gun to the police later in the evening at the police station.

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According to Haaretz, police have previously detained Temple Mount activists Yehuda Glick and Emanuel Brosh for blowing shofarot in the cemetery.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court recently shot down efforts to prohibit Brosh from the site, essentially allowing him to blow the shofar anywhere along the Eastern Wall, saying that blowing a shofar in a public space is not illegal.

Temple Mount activists say the issue is a matter of religious expression.

The delicate status quo governing the Temple Mount goes back to 1967, when Israel liberated the the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six Day War.

Fearing a religious war, then-defense minister Moshe Dayan agreed to let the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trusteeship, continue managing the holy site’s day-to-day affairs, while Israel would maintain overall sovereignty and be responsible for security. According to the status quo, Jews and non-Muslims would be allowed to visit the Temple Mount, but not pray there.