Israeli police have announced a reduction in the times that Jews can visit the Temple Mount during Ramadan, for fear that Jewish visitors may come under attack from Palestinians.
The Temple Mount is the location of the First and Second Temples that the Lord commanded the Jewish people to build for Him. It is the holiest place for Jews and also holds vast significance for Christians, both historically and for the future.
However, no Jewish or Christian worship or prayer is allowed on the Temple Mount. And while Muslims have freedom of worship on the site, now Jews are being restricted even further during Ramadan.
Regular opening hours for Jews to visit the Temple mount are 7am to 10:30am and 12:30pm to 1:30pm each day. However, during Ramadan, only the morning hours will remain open to Jews.
It is clear that there is discrimination against the Jewish people at the Temple Mount. They do not have freedom of worship in their capital city or at their holiest site. This reality is completely ignored by international media outlets and the United Nations, in fact, the United Nations routinely votes to maintain the “status quo” which discriminates against Jews and Christians and only allows Islamic prayer and worship at the site.
The reason for this is not because Jews are the problem. Them visiting their holiest site is always done in a peaceful and respectful manner. The reason Jews are stopped is because of the violence and threats against them.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is often a time period when there is an uptick in violent activity by Palestinian terror groups in Israel. In fact, terror attacks by Islamist factions increase globally at this time.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, it is the belief of Muslims that blessings count double during Ramadan. This belief is taken to the extreme by radical Islamists that if they become “martyrs” during this month they will receive a special blessing. This is capitalised on my Islamist leaders who use the occasion to coerce their followers to carry out atrocities in the name of Allah.
Ramadan sees an uptick in violence from Palestinians towards Israelis that Palestinian terror groups weave in anti-Israel rhetoric into religious teachings to capitalise on the occasion. And practically, when an entire population is fasting food and water for long periods of time, it can have negative physical and psychological effects on some. Not only is there an increase in terrorism during Ramadan, but also in domestic violence and in violent confrontations between Muslims.
In Israel, this all culminates in a need for Israeli authorities to increase their security measures during Ramadan.
In order to prepare for the potential violence, Israel has been increasing the number of police officers in sensitive areas in Jerusalem, among other locations. And this comes at a time when tensions are already high given the series of Palestinian terror attacks we’ve seen in recent weeks.
This year there have been additional efforts to address the potential for violence that go beyond traditional security measures.
Representatives of the Israeli, Jordanian, Egyptian and U.S. governments, as well as emissaries from the Palestinian Authority, met this past Sunday in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt. The stated goal was to try to tamp down the prospects for conflict in the coming month, but, sadly, even as the representatives were meeting, yet another Palestinian terror attack took place – this time wounding a retired U.S. Marine now living in Israel. He was driving through Huwara with his wife and three children when a gunman opened fire upon the family. Thankfully, they all survived.
Since the beginning of the year, 14 people have been killed and many more wounded as a result of Palestinian terror. In fact, things have become so violent and tense that Jordan is now concerned that Palestinian terrorism could spill over into its borders.
Israel is praying for a peaceful Ramadan, but it is preparing for the worst. Unfortunately, previous years have proven the need for this.
As Christians who love Israel, we must continue to pray for the Jewish people during the month of Ramadan. Let’s pray for peace and protection in Jerusalem and throughout Israel. May the Palestinians turn away from their hatred and violence and instead turn to peace.
We call upon the UK Government to officially recognise Jerusalem is Israel's capital and move its embassy to Jerusalem.