JERUSALEM (Jul. 19)
Tisha B’Av was observed here with quiet prayers, a noisy but non-violent demonstration against autopsies and grumblings from the Aguda Israel members of Premier Menachem Begin’s coalition who were unable to secure the release of II ultra-Orthodox Jews jailed for rioting last week.
The holiday, a day of fasting in memory of the destruction of the Temple, brought throngs of tourists to the Western Wall where they ming led with Israeli worshippers, among them former President Yitzhak Navon and his son, Erez.
Several dozen members of the “Temple Mount Faithful” held prayer services near the Mograbi Gate which gives access to the Temple Mount. The group has been trying for years to win permission to pray on the Mount itself which is the site of the El Aksa mosque and the Dane of the Rock, two of the holiest shrines of Islam.
Jews are barred from worshipping there to avoid friction with Moslems. But the “Faithful” seemed satisfied with a Supreme Court order allowing a “reasonable number” of them to hold services near the Mograbi Gate without stipulating that they stand at least five yards away from the gate.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Geula quarter rallied against autopsies, an annual Tisha B’Av event in recent years. But there was none of the violence that marked the demonstrations in the Mea Shearim quarter last week against archaeological diggings near the Old City walls.
The Aguda Israel Knesset faction appealed to the Justice and Interior ministers for the release of the jailed rioters for Tisha B’Av. MKs Shlomo Lorincz and Menachem Porush got II of the detainees to sign a pledge to appear in court for their hearings if they are released. But those efforts were to no avail.
The men remained in jail over Tisha B’Av and Aguda MKs hinted that there would be trouble in Premier Menachem Begin’s coalition if Jerusalem police continue to take strong measures against Orthodox troublemakers.