The family of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, who was killed in a terror attack on June 30, held a memorial ceremony Tuesday morning at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Police permitted the family members and dozens of friends and supporters to enter the Temple Mount in small groups. However, in accordance with the regulations at the site, they were forbidden to pray, and Knesset members — including Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, a family member; and Yehuda Glick — were not permitted entry. Ariel and Glick, along with hundreds of supporters, waited at the Western Wall plaza, where they were later joined by the Ariel family after their Temple Mount visit.
The family of the slain teen had expressed a wish to rename the gate through which they would enter to the Temple Mount in her honor. The assembled group symbolically declared that the Mughrabi Gate, used by non-Muslims to enter the Mount, had been renamed Hallel Gate.
During the visit, four people were detained by police officers for violating the rules of the site, presumably by praying. The four detainees were released a short while later, police said.
Hallel Ariel was stabbed to death on the morning of June 30 as she slept in her bed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba by a 17-year-old Palestinian assailant from a nearby village. Civilian guards shot and killed the attacker. A second Israeli man who was wounded by friendly fire in the attack was discharged from the hospital on Monday.
Speaking at the Temple Mount, Ariel’s parents urged Jews to visit the site and rebuild the Temple.
“Thank you to all who came. We did not come this morning to cry. We have cried a lot and we will cry more. We came to be strengthened and to strengthen others,” said Rina Ariel. “Come, speak, debate, think, but put the Temple Mount and the Temple at the pinnacle, for this is the time. Our daughter’s heart was torn. We strengthen, together with you, the heart of the nation. Here is the heart of the nation.”
“This terrible loss of blood is because we do not hold this mountain. When we take possession it will not simply be a mountain but a mountain with a Temple,” added Amihai Ariel.
In a Facebook video, Rina and Amihai Ariel had called on all Jews to join them for the memorial service on the Mount.
Rina Ariel had also written to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requesting permission for several hundred Jews, including Uri Ariel, to participate join the event.
“We and Hallel have always felt a deep connection to the Temple Mount. We visited it and will continue to do so, as we believe that it is the house of God, and that it gives strength and life to each and every house in Israel,” she wrote in the letter, according to the Ynet news site.
“And as it is only from there that all deficits can be filled, it is only from there that we will receive any sense of solace. For this reason we are asking to perform the mitzvah of visiting the Temple Mount and praying there for the ascent of Hallel’s soul this coming Tuesday, with 250 people who have pledged to join and comfort us. It is very important to me that the event be coordinated with the police and not [be] carried out in any manner of confrontation,” the letter read.
Palestinians accuse Israel of trying to change the status quo at the site — holy to both Jews and Muslims — under which Jews may visit but not pray, but Israel denies that it is seeking to make any changes. Palestinians have cited Israeli “provocations” on the Temple Mount as one of the main catalysts for months of violent attacks late last year and in 2016. In an effort to curb the tensions, Netanyahu has instructed both Jewish and Muslim Knesset members to refrain from visiting there.
“The terrorist butchered our daughter in her heart, and our heart is in the Temple Mount,” Rina Ariel said last week. “Anyone who can come strengthen our heart [should], not through war and not through hate. Support us so that our strength and our heart should continue beating.”
In a video released on Monday both Amihai and Rina had called on the entire Jewish nation to join them in memory of their daughter.
The video, shared on the Facebook page of MK Yehuda Glick, had been viewed hundreds of times. Several death threats were left in the comments on the video, warning of massive bloodshed if the family entered the Mount.
JTA contributed to this report.