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Israel rebukes Amman over harassment of religious Jews

Tourists have been denied entry because they carry tefillin, prayer shawls or holy books.

The Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein Crossing near Beit She'an, one of three entry/exit points between Israel and Jordan. Aug. 5, 2013. Photo by Moshe Shai/Flash90.
The Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein Crossing near Beit She'an, one of three entry/exit points between Israel and Jordan. Aug. 5, 2013. Photo by Moshe Shai/Flash90.

Israel has lodged an official complaint with Jordan over the repeated harassment of religious Jewish tourists at border crossings, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Tuesday. 

The protest expressed in a letter from Foreign Minister Eli Cohen came two weeks after a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews said they were asked to cut off their sidelocks after being detained for two days at the Jordanian side of the Yitzhak Rabin/Wadi Araba border crossing north of Eilat. It also follows multiple reports of Jordanian authorities refusing to allow religious Jews to enter with religious objects.

“It is beyond the pale that Israelis will be humiliated at the crossings to Jordan and their entry denied only because they are religious Jews,” Cohen said. 

Israel’s top diplomat said that he was working with the Jordanian embassy in Israel and Jordanian authorities to find a solution to thousands of religious Israelis who are interested in visiting Jordan but are prevented from entering because they carry tefillin (phylacteries) prayer shawls or holy books.

In the latest incident, the Jewish tourists said that the Jordanian guards at the Yitzhak Rabin crossing who asked them to cut off their traditional side curls told them that it was safer for them not to be visibly Jewish in the kingdom.

Earlier this year, a U.K.-born rabbi on his way to board a connecting flight at Jordan’s main airport—Queen Alia International Airport near Amman—had the straps of his tefillin cut by security guards who called them a security threat.

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