Police Block Jewish Extremists From Temple Mount

Radical group called 'Returning to the Mount' planned to light Hanukkah candles at flashpoint site.

FILE PHOTO: Policemen guard as Jewish youths leave Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City. September 22, 2015.

Two people, including one minor, were arrested Thursday when police dispersed an illegal demonstration by Temple Mount activists at the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City.

The group behind the demonstration, Hozrim LaHar (Returning to the Mount), is considered the most extreme of the various organizations seeking increased access for Jews to the Temple Mount. Its activists come from the same circles as do members of the outlawed Kach party and Lehava, the violent Jewish supremacist organization headed by Bentzi Gopstein.

Hozrim LaHar’s members periodically try to ascend the Mount. This time, they announced that they planned to light Hanukkah candles on the Mount, and about 40 members showed up for the event. However, police stopped them from even entering the Old City, intercepting them at Jaffa Gate.

Unrelated to this demonstration, a monthly march by religious Zionist youth around the gates of the Temple Mount took place last night. The march, known as Sivuv Shearim (“encircling the gates”), usually takes place on the first day of every Hebrew month.

Last month, police prevented left-wing activists from approaching the marchers and even interfered with their efforts to film it, among other methods by blinding their cameras.

The activists then asked the High Court of Justice to order police to let them approach and film the event. During a hearing on their petition, police promised to let them film from “a reasonable proximity” next time.

In the past, marchers have been taped chanting hateful slogans like “the mosque will burn,” referring to Al-Aqsa Mosque. But last month, the event passed quietly, with no racist songs. Witnesses said police also made an effort to quickly restore the Muslim Quarter to normalcy once the march was over.