The Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, under the auspices of MK Miri Regev discussed the maintenance and security condition on the Mount of Olives. Over the last few years, there has been a concerning increase in the number of attacks on Jewish civilians who go to visit the graves of their loved ones at the cemetery on the Mount.
The first speaker was Harvey Schwartz, The Chair of the International Committee for the Protection of the Mount of Olives. He opened his remarks by thanking Regev for her contributions. Afterwards, Schwartz said that despite this not being the first time that this matter was discussed, there has been no improvement and that the police are not working hard enough to stop violence in the sensitive, holy region. ”World Jewry will not be silent until there is quiet on the Mount of Olives,” said Schwartz. MK Nissim Zeev said that ”Israel is losing its mind on everything relating to places of worship” adding that rocks were thrown at him last year when he went up to the Mount of Olives. MK Hilik Bar echoed his words. ”The importance of this place to the Jews is great. Every day, many citizens go up there. We cannot wait for someone to be killed, which will lead to violent protests.” MK Avraham Michaeli expressed his shock at the depressing situation. ”What happened? People are afraid to go to the gravesite of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. How could it be that no one enforces the law?”
Jewish quarter resident, Yitzhak Cohen said ”Yesterday I went to visit the grave of my son who was killed in the terrorist attack in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, but when I got close to the grave, stones were thrown at me from every direction. My life was truly in danger. The attackers ran away only when I left my car with my firearm. I will not travel with an escort. I will continue to go from my home in the capital of Israel as a proud Jew in his land.”
The head of the Jerusalem Cemetery Council, Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, said that he is working on an ongoing basis with the police, the Ministry of Housing and the Prime Minister`s Office in order to solve the problem. He added that ”Only a permanent presence of the police will solve the problem.” Anar Ozri, representative of the Jerusalem Development Authority, echoed Horowitz`s position. ”We cannot just rely on cameras,” said Ozri. MK Uri Maklev, added that ”The police`s responsibility is to be concerned with the security of civilians. If they aren`t able to do so then we will bring in the army!”
The representative of the ceremonial burial committee on the Mount of Olives alleged that the principal of the school in the area gives special breaks to his students so that they can go out to throw stones. MK Miri Regev said in response that she will ask the Minister of Education to examine the subsidy to the school. MK Regev added that the job of the police is to deal with any instance of stone throwing.
Regev finished the debate by expressing her disappointment in the police for failing to secure the mountain. ”There isn`t another functional state where they have to deal with something like this. I really do not want to reach a point where a terrible thing might happen and I will be forced to say I told you so.” MK Regev also pointed out that it makes no sense that a place where the major figures of Jewish history are buried has reached this point.