Police arrested two Jewish activists on Tuesday for waving Israeli flags and singing the Israeli national anthem atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Those detained were members of “Israel is Forever,” an organization of Jews of French origin.
“We’ve been detained already for five hours on the grounds of singing ‘Hatikvah’ and waving the Israeli flag. I just got my phone back but am still waiting to have my fingerprints and picture taken,” said Nili Naouri, one of the two arrested.
“It needs to be made very clear: We are allowed to wave the flag and sing the Israeli national anthem on the Temple Mount, and we will continue acting like the homeowners on the holiest place to the Jewish people!” he added.
Tom Nisani, CEO of Temple Mount advocacy group Beyadenu, said that despite the establishment of the new right/religious Israeli government, Jews were still being arrested on the Temple Mount for no reason.
Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir caused an international firestorm earlier this month when he visited the holy site.
“The Temple Mount is the most important place for the people of Israel,” Ben-Gvir noted during his visit, adding: “We maintain the freedom of movement for Muslims and Christians, but Jews also go up to the site, and those who make threats must be dealt with with an iron fist.”
Currently, Jews can only visit the site during short windows of time, and are prohibited from worshipping.
During 2022, 51,483 Jews visited the site, up from 34,651 in 2021 and 20,684 in 2020, according to statistics compiled by Beyadenu.
But Nisani also noted an accompanying negative trend.
“We are also witnessing arrests, bans and detentions of hundreds of Jewish visitors to the Mount, not because they acted violently or illegally but for absurd reasons like praying, waving the Israeli flag, or trying to eat sufganiyot [jelly donuts—a treat associated with Hanukkah] on the Mount. This must change in 2023,” he said.
Fifty-one Jewish visitors to the site were arrested last year, while 90 Jewish worshipers were detained. Fifty-two Temple Mount visitors were banned by police order.