The narrative of a mountain – Temple Mount

In October 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) voted in a resolution that denies Jewish heritage and history to the Temple Mount. The resolution refer to the place only by its Muslim name, “Al-Haram al-Sharif”, and not mentioning its original name, “Temple Mount”.


Visitors that come to the Temple mount, often wonder how come the Israelis, that got this place in the 6-days war (June 1967) still let the Muslims control over the place.

Only Muslims are allowed to pray in Temple Mount

In today’s status-quo, Only Muslims are allowed to Pray in the Temple Mount.

Anyone that is not a Muslim: either Jew or Christian, can go up to the Temple Mount but not into the mosques. This can be done only in certain hours, not in weekends, and one is not allowed to pray in the place, and not to bring any Bible, cross or Star of David with him.

Moreover, until last year, Israeli tour guides could not even guide groups in the site, as groups of praying Muslim women would start to shout every time someone spoke in the place.

This rude behavior was stopped by the Israeli police and it is much easier to tour in the place today.

Why did Israel let the Muslims to control the place?

Temple Mount is the most holly place for the Jews, although for centuries they were not allowed to enter or pray in it.

In June 1967, after Israel got east Jerusalem, there was an historical opportunity to set a Jewish rule over the Temple mount.

Moshe Dayan, who was the Minister of Defense in 1967, returned the keys to the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf (the religious Muslim property) and took the Israeli flag from Temple Mount immediately after the war ended.

What was the reason he did that? Such an action was not taken in any other part that was taken in 6-days war.

Some people say that Dayan understood the sensitivity of the place and prepared for a peace process in which lands will be returned back to the Kingdom of Jordan. But this does not make a lot of sense as most people in Israel believed that Jerusalem will remain united forever.

A Religious Jewish issue

The reason is different and comes from a religious Jewish consideration that some people do not always understand.

When you enter the Temple Mount, you may notice the following sign before the gate:


This sign is only an announcement and warning. But why is it there?

Let’s open our Bible

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come. You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him; and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood seven times directly in front of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight: its hide, its flesh, its blood, and its offal shall be burned. And the priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet, and cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer. Then the priest shall wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening. And the one who burns it shall wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening. Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin. 10 And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the children of Israel and to the stranger who dwells among them. (Numbers 19 1-10)

In not so many places in the Torah we get such a detailed explanation of the law and what needs to be done. The issue of the red heifer is very serious because this is the key for purifying people that are unclean. Who is the unclean? People that touched dead bodies.

Since the destruction of the second temple, the breed of red heifers was lost, and all the detailed procedure to prepare water of purification cannot be performed.

The meaning is that almost anyone is unclean and hence, should not enter the holy place of the Temple Mount!

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel warn anyone, in particular Jews, to avoid from entering Temple mount until the Third Temple is built!

Political Wisdom

Moshe Dayan, understood that this place is explosive.

On the one hand, The Muslims ruled the place for centuries and claim that this is the third most holy place for them.

On the other hand, the Jewish Rabbinate do not want Jews to enter the place.

He made a quick decision to keep the status-quo that was before the 6-days war and not to create a new reason for another war.

And he was very right!

The heart of the conflict

The Temple Mount, or Al-Haram al-Sharif as it is called by the Muslims, is being the heart of the religious conflict between Muslims and Jews for 100 years.

The first riots were in 1920, while the British still ruled the place. The Muslims claimed that the Jews want to take over Al-Haram al-Sharif and started murdering Jews.

This happened again and again until in the year 2000, The Muslims started extensive riots that they literally called: “AlAqsa Intifada” (Al-Aqsa is the name of the most holy mosque) .

And today, nothing has changed: you can hear in Muslim media again and again that Israel is aiming to take over Al-Aqsa and all Muslims are called to unite against Israel.

Author: Ran Silberman

I am a tour guide in Israel with a passion for the Bible. For many years I work in the software industry as a software consultant. I blog in

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