(Maayan Berrebi/TPS)
Temple Mount in Jerusalem

The group was assaulted by a police officer and a Waqf guard.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

A group of Jews who visited the Temple Mount on Tuesday was assaulted by the police and the Waqf after singing Israel’s national anthem.

Members of the French-speaking tour group said they sang Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah” while on the western side of the complex. Within minutes they encountered violence and physical assaults both by a policeman named Shadi and by a Waqf guard man named Samer Abu Qweider, who was arrested by the police.

The group was detained at the exit from the Temple Mount, at which point the legal staff of the “Beyadenu – for the Temple Mount” organization was updated on the matter and provided legal assistance.

The members of the group were subsequently released unconditionally. One of the members of the group was told that he would be summoned for a “hearing,” but has yet to receive anything in writing.

One of the members of the group who was pushed and hit in the face by the Waqf man filed a complaint to the police.

The members of the group also intend to file a complaint with the Department of Internal Police Investigations against the policeman who they say physically assaulted them, noting that they have previously sung the Hatikvah on the Temple Mount without interruption.

The tour was organized by the Israel is Forever Foundation.

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.

While Judaism is clear that the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world, rabbis are increasingly divided over Jews ascending to the Temple Mount. For centuries, the widespread rabbinic consensus was that the laws of ritual purity still apply to the site.

But in recent years, a growing number of rabbis have argued that ritual purity laws don’t apply to all of the Temple Mount. Some even encourage visiting permitted areas of the esplanade to maintain Jewish ties to the Mount.

Tom Nissani, CEO of Beyadenu, stated after the incident that “Hatikvah, the song of hope, on the Temple Mount, is a natural thing. There is no reasonable scenario that should result in violence from the police and Arabs. This is a serious case. Our legal team will accompany and handle the case accordingly.”

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

On several occasions, Jews have been banned from the Temple Mount following Muslim agitation, or following fears that a Jewish presence at the site would agitate the Muslims.

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

The Beyadenu Foundation is the largest organization dedicated to raising awareness of the Temple Mount and its heritage. Its mission is to connect Israelis from all walks of life to the Temple Mount and bring about a change in the situation of Jews’ rights and fight discrimination at the holy complex.

United With Israel staff contributed to this report.