Hundreds of Jewish protesters tried to block Greek Orthodox Christians Monday morning from entering King David’s Tomb in the Old City of Jerusalem. The protesters held a mass prayer service and study session near the site in an effort to prevent the Christian worshippers from entering the complex, the Jerusalem Post reported.
One of the organizers, Yedudah Puah, said the Jews had gathered “to prevent the desecration of King David’s Tomb by an idolatrous ceremony of the Greek Church.” But Jerusalem police were still able to ensure access for the Christian worshippers to conduct their ceremony. No protesters were arrested at the site Monday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The complex houses sites considered holy to both Jews and Christians. Jewish tradition says the lower level holds the tomb of King David, and Christian tradition says Jesus’ Last Supper took place in a separate room above. The Israeli government allows Christian ceremonies at the site three times a year. Still, protests by Jewish radicals have increased in recent months to stop Christian worshippers from reaching the complex, the Jewish Daily Forward reported.
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) June 1, 2015
Rumors that the Israeli government would hand over the site to the Vatican have also intensified demonstrations. The Jewish protesters argue the Christian services at the site breach Jewish prayer rights. In addition, opponents say, those services will prevent Jews from worshipping in the complex because Jewish law forbids using a building which is used for idol-worship. The use of effigies, icons and other rituals practiced by Christian worshippers fall under the definition of idol worship according to Jewish law, Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported.
“I’m shocked and am left shaking from the great desecration of God’s name,” Jerusalem activist Efraim Holtzberg, who was on scene during the protest, told Arutz Sheva Monday. “Here the previous government made a mistake, there are unwise people who made mistakes and allowed the Christians to hold a ritual once a year. It’s similar to a wedding ceremony in which the groom and bride sign a contract that the bride can cheat on her husband once a year.”