Three Israeli Jews were arrested on Sunday for uttering prayers atop Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which they and others were visiting together with several Knesset members in commemoration of Jerusalem Day.
Jerusalem Day marks the 1967 reunification of the city under Jewish rule. One of the most important and significant aspects of the reunification was that the Temple Mount returned to Jewish hands for the first time since the Romans razed the holy site in 70 AD.
With Israeli army commanders declaring "the Temple Mount is in our hands," Jews the world over allowed themselves to believe that they would once again worship at their people's holiest site. But political correctness and a fear of Islam would see those hopes dashed, and Israel reluctantly placed a ban on all Jewish and Christian prayers atop the Muslim-occupied Temple Mount.
Every year, small groups of Jews and Christians challenge the status quo by attempting to pray at the Temple Mount. That is what happened on Sunday, when a group of right-wing Israelis visited the site together with Knesset members Michael Ben Ari and Uri Ariel (National Union). At one point, Ben Ari joined three other Jewish visitors in reciting a Jewish prayer aloud.
That was enough for Islamic officials (who closely tail Jewish and Christian visitors) to become irate, and for Israeli police to step in and demand that the Jews stop praying. When the Jewish visitors refused to stop praying, three of them were arrested (Ben Ari avoided arrest thanks to his parliamentary immunity).
MK Ariel later released a statement insisting that the Temple Mount "is under Israeli sovereignty and therefore the Israeli government must allow every Jew to realize his autonomous rights and to go up and to pray on the Temple Mount."