Jerusalem (Sep. 26)
(J. T. A. Mail Service)
The Government attitude with regard to the incident which occurred on Yom Kippur at the Wailing Wall is set forth in an official statement, the text of which follows.
“On the evening of the 23d of September, the eve of the Day of Atonement,” it says, a complaint was made to the Deputy District Commissioner, Jerusalem, by the Mutawali of the Abu Madian Waqi, in which the pavement and the whole area around the Western or Wailing Wall is vested, to the effect that a dividing screen had been affixed to the pavement adjointing the Wall, and that other innovations had been made in the established practice, such as the introduction of additional petrol lamps, a number of mats and a tabernacle or ark much larger than was customary. The Deputy District Commissioner visited the Wall during the eventing service, and, acting in accordance with the practice established by Government, decided that the screen would have to be removed before the service on the following day. He gave instructions accordingly to the beadle in charge of the arrangements for the conduct of the services at the Wall, reserving his decision in the matter of the lamps, the mats and the ark. The beadle undertook to remove the screen and the Deputy District Commissioner gave him until early the following morning to do so. The Deputy District Commissioner accepted the beadles’s assurance that his instructions would be carried out, at the same time informing the British Police Officer on duty that in the event of the beadle not complying with his undertaking the screen was to be removed.
“On the following morning the Police Officer visited the Wall and, finding that the screen had not been removed, asked members of the congregation present to take it away: they replied that they were unable to move it because of the holiness of the day The Police therefore removed the screen themselves. The worshippers in general, unaware of the circumstances that had gone before and see-ing only the police in the act of removing the screen which had been used to separate the men and the women, became excited and some of them endeavored by force to prevent the screen being taken away. Ultimately the screen was removed. The importation of the screen and its attachment to the pavement constituted an infraction of the status quo, which the Government was unable to permit. At the same time the Government deeply deplores the shock that was caused to large numbers of religious people on a day so holy to Jews. The Government understands the beadle responsible for the innovation which caused the incident has been dealt with by the Jewish authorities, and on their side have impressed the Jewish authorities with the need, manifested in connection with the incidents at the Wall in 1922 and 1925 and again on this occasion, for prior consultation with the proper officers of Government as to the arrangements for the services at the Wall on the principal Jewish holidays.
“No Jewish Police Officer was present at the Wall on the occasion in question owing to all Jewish officers in Jerusalem being excused from duty for the Day oo Atonement. The Government will however, consider the desirability of a responsible Jewish Officer being included in future among the officers detailed for duty at the Wall on solemn Jewish holy days.
“In conclusion, the Government considers that the removal of the screen was necessary, but regrets all the circumstances attending that removal.”