Two Israeli soldiers were barred on Tuesday from future visits to the Temple Mount after saluting the area where the ancient Jewish Temples were situated.
The two, in uniform and wearing berets of the Kfir Brigade, toured the holy site on Israel’s Independence Day. As the pair passed close to the spot where the biblical Ark of the Covenant is thought to have been stored, they saluted, a police spokesperson confirmed.
At the conclusion of their tour, they were informed by a police officer that they may not return to visit the site. The soldiers told the Israel National News website that police told them they were banned over the salutes.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. Known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary, it is the third-holiest site in Islam.
Under the terms of the fragile status quo in place on the Mount for decades, Jews and other non-Muslims can visit, but cannot worship there. While the Jordanian-run and Palestinian-staffed Waqf manages the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, it has no authority over who enters the Temple Mount compound, which is guarded by Israeli police.
נציג הוואקף מתלונן ל שוטרים "שו הדה?"
יענו מה הם מצדיעים לי על הר הבית. pic.twitter.com/KafnHyvJbq
— dudi d♡lev (@dudid2428) May 2, 2017
Later on Tuesday the United Nations’ cultural agency passed a resolution that indicates rejection of the Jewish state’s sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem.
In the UNESCO resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” Israel is referred to throughout the document as the “occupying power” in Jerusalem indicating that it has no legal or historical ties to any part of the city.
Resolution 201 EX/PX/DR.30.1 does affirm “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions.” It also notes that The Patriarchs’ Cave and Rachel’s Tomb in Hebron “are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam” — though it calls them “Palestinian sites.”
The resolution also harshly criticizes the Israeli government for various construction projects in Jerusalem’s Old City and at holy sites in Hebron, and calls for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza without mentioning attacks from the Hamas-run Strip.