From World Net Daily's Jerusalem Bureau
10,000 Jews to ascend Temple Mount:
Group seeks to reclaim Israeli control of holy site (Excerpts)
March 16, 2005
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM -- A grassroots Jewish organization plans to bring 10,000 Jews next month to the heavily restricted Temple Mount to spark Israeli dialogue about reclaiming the holy site from its Muslim custodians.
"The Temple Mount is the single holiest place in the world for Jews. It's about time the Israeli government restores it to the Jewish people, where it belongs," David Ha'ivri, chairman of Revava, the group orchestrating the gathering, told WND.
Although not mentioned by name in the Quran, the Temple Mount also is commonly identified by Muslims as the "furthermost sanctuary," the site from which Muhammad, accompanied by the angel Gabriel, made the Night Journey to the Throne of God.
The Temple Mount was opened to the general public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshipers after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.
During "open" days, Jews and Christian are allowed to ascend the Mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first to a strict set of guidelines, which includes demands that they not pray or bring any "holy objects" to the site. Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.
"The Temple Mount is the only holy place in the world, aside from Mecca, where Jews are explicitly forbidden to pray ... and here the restrictions are coming from a Jewish government."
Several rabbinic authorities have issued orders barring Jews from entering certain parts of the Temple Mount, saying the areas are considered too holy to visit until the third Temple is rebuilt upon the arrival of the Jewish messiah. Some have restricted the entire Mount area.
The tour guide, Nachman Kupietsky, an Orthodox Jew who covers his head with a baseball cap while in the area and not his usual yarmulke, for fear of being arrested, said, "These rules are very serious. They were made by the Waqf and agreed to by the Sharon government, which is not very religious and just doesn't want any more clashes on the Temple Mount."
Kupietsky told WND of instances in the past few months in which members of his tour group were arrested for breaking various rules.
He said a Jewish woman was detained last summer for putting her head down while sitting on a bench.
"It was a hot day and she just wanted to rest for a few minutes. The Wafq started screaming and the police arrested her. She told me she was held for six hours and had to sign documents stating she would never again return to the Temple Mount.
"You also can't bring anything with Hebrew letters, even secular Hebrew books. The Wafq confiscated many of my tour books. One time I brought a guy who pulled out the Hebrew edition of the [Jerusalem] Post, and they took that from him."
Rabbi Yosef Elbaum, a rabbinic consultant to Revava, said "The Israeli government should immediately return the Temple Mount to the way it was. Jews must be allowed to go there and pray."