July 30, 2003
The Temple Mount is once again closed to Jewish visitors – adding “mourning to our mourning,” in the words of the Yesha Rabbis Council. Police Chief Shlomo Aharonishki says it was closed, in coordination with the government, for “operational” reasons. He did not respond to a request by Arutz-7’s Moshe Priel to enumerate those reasons. Waqf (Islamic Trust) leader Adnan Husseini says it was he who requested the closure.
In any event, Jews who had planned to take the necessary Halakhic precautions and ascend to the Halakhically-permitted areas of the Mount to commemorate the mourning period for the Temple will not be able to do so. The Yesha Rabbis Council said that the decision “adds mourning to our mourning as we begin the Nine Days of mourning for our Holy Temple [culminating next Thursday with the fast of Tisha B’Av – the Ninth of Av], and manifests the incomplete extent of our independence…”
The Mount had been closed to Jews since September 2000 for fear of Arab violence. About a month ago, however, police began to allow individual small groups to ascend to the site. Yasser Arafat has made many inflammatory comments over the past few days against Israel’s decision to allow Jews to visit the holy site. The PA media have been giving wide coverage to his incitement. Arafat calls the entry of Jews to their most sacred site a “Jewish invasion” and a “crime.”
Thousands of Jews are taking part this evening in the now-traditional monthly “Walk Around the Temple Mount Gates,” held every Rosh Chodesh [beginning of a Jewish month].
Dr. Eilat Mazar, an archaeologist and an active member of the Committee Against the Destruction of Temple Mount Artifacts, has been outspoken against the Moslem Waqf’s attempted destruction of Jewish history at the Temple Mount. She told Arutz-7 this morning that the large-scale destruction has stopped, “but I can’t give you a detailed account, because we’re still not allowed to properly monitor the situation. We have no way of knowing what is going on underground in the large caverns, where the Waqf had been making preparations to build and make major changes.” She said that the Jordanians have made repairs on the buckling Southern Wall, but that no one is particularly happy with the results.
Dr. Mazar said that the goal of the Waqf is still to turn the entire Temple Mount compound, about 36 acres in area, into an active mosque, and deny all Jewish connections to the site.