Photo Credit: The Temple Institute
A criminal investigation has been launched against Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute.

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the 78 year old founder of the Temple Institute and a former Israeli paratrooper who took part in Israel’s liberation of Temple Mount in 1967, has been banned from entering the holiest Jewish site by Israeli Police.

Ariel was informed of the ban last week after attempting to visit the site. Although an official reason was not given at the time, the Rabbi was told by police officers that he was banned indefinitely.


A spokesman for the Jerusalem Police told the Jewish Press that the rabbi conducted himself in a manner which is not in compliance with the law and a criminal investigation has been launched against him.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute, wrote an email in response to a Jewish Press inquiry, saying: “The Israel Police’s recent shift of policy towards Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount is a throwback to the dark ages of totalitarian rule. The draconian, illegal suppression of Jewish presence, prayer and identification is a stain on this great country’s record of democracy. While on the one hand, the State of Israel champions human rights and pluralism, the treatment of Jews on the Temple Mount bespeaks utter contempt, insensitivity to religious feelings, and a brutal quashing of the most basic human rights.”

Rabbi Chaim Richman added that “it is inconceivable that Jews are treated as criminals for expressing a desire to pray at their holiest site. It is equally unconscionable that Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, who served with the paratroopers that liberated the Temple Mount in the 1967 Six Day War, risking his life and burying his comrades for the sake of the Jewish sovereignty of the Temple Mount, should be served with an order distancing him from the Temple Mount indefinitely. His ‘crime’ was giving thanks to God, in that very spot – for the return of the site to the Jewish people. Has it indeed returned to the Jewish people? Is the Temple Mount ‘in our hands?’ Every day that this situation is allowed to continue is a step backwards for the State of Israel.”

Rabbi Ariel (the bearded paratrooper on the left) bringing his teachers The Nazir and Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook to the Kotel soon after its liberation.

The harsh police move is thought by a source at the Temple Institute to be related to a You Tube video showing a large group of Jews who ascended the mount with Rabbi Ariel on Jerusalem Day, to celebrate 45 years since the liberation of the site.

In addition to Rabbi Ariel, a number of other Jewish worshipers that visited the site on Jerusalem day and are seen in the video have also been banned.

The video shows a large gathering of Jews who were able to pray, sing and say blessings while on the Temple Mount, for the first time in many years, unhindered by nearby police. The contingency of Jewish worshipers was led by Knesset members Michael Ben Ari and Uri Ariel, as well as by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute, and other prominent rabbis and public figures.

On the video, Rabbi Ariel can be heard saying, “I have waited forty five years to be able to say the Shehechianu (lit. “He who has kept us alive,” a blessing of thanksgiving) here on the Temple Mount.”

His prayer of thanks is then followed by a memorial prayer for his fallen comrades who lost their lives in the mission to liberate Temple Mount during the Six Day War. The group was accompanied by journalists and cameramen from Israel’s major news outlets. The worshipers exited the Mount singing. No violence or protest occurred.

Here is the video that is thought to have led to Rabbi Ariel’s ban:

In response to the ban, Likud MK Tzippy Hotovely released a statement today calling for the convening of an urgent Interior Committee meeting in the Knesset to discuss freedom of Jewish prayer on Temple Mount. “This is a fatal blow to freedom of worship, and has no place in the state of Israel,” MK Hotovely said.


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Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth,,, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


  1. Screw it. Start creating virtual images of the Temple Mount with Photo shop and video software, and post them on the Internet. Make new buildings, get rid of the mosques, fly Israeli flags from it, put on virtual concerts and prayer sessions, whatever you want. Start fighting back with the Internet and computers and Youtube and Facebook to show it all off. It's really easy to do if you have the right software. Relpo's Jewish Internet Defense Forces approved tactics.

  2. The Orthodox have no problem banning non-Orthodox Jews from the Wall i.e. the woman detained by the pollice for wearing a tallit, etc. But now when it happens to one of thier own they squeal like…well they squeal. For almost twenty years the Arabs kept the Jews from the Old City. Now that we have it back, could we all share it in the peace and harmony which Hashem intended. Or are we going to do a repeat of the last days of the Second Commonwealth?

  3. If our Jewish brothers cannot pray on the Temple Mount then NO ONE ought to be able to pray there! Who is running this country anyway? The Police or is there a politician who is pulling the strings!

  4. The Jews who ascend to the Temple Mount are not the Jews who have a problem with women wearing a tallit. But the police sure have gotten into the business of determining what is acceptable worship and what is not, and that is definitely NOT their job. The problem is that the police don't defend people's freedom of worship, they deny it.

  5. This is an absolute profanity! To ban Rav Ariel from Har Habayit, after he fought for it's redemption is a travesty of justice in the first order. It's high time to repeal this racist ban against Jews praying at the Holiest site in Judaism. Again, this is a direct result of so-called "frum" or "orthodox" Jews refusing to visit HaShem's Holy Palace. If we continue to act like Jews in exile, we will be so treated.

  6. sometimes I wonder on which side the government of Israel is on, which kind of people the army and the police are defending…..can somebody please explain why a Jewish State won't allow Jews to pray at the Temple mount? and why a Jewish State expells Jews from their portion of the Land of Israel? I don't get this!

  7. Sincere Question: (I don't want this to be taken politically. This is aside from the fact that I don't think that Jews should be banned anywhere by anyone in Eretz Yisroel.) Aren't Jews not allowed on the Temple Mount because we're tumei and need to be purified by the ashes of the parah adumah?

  8. I am surprised that no one is considering the risks and dangers in Rav Ariel's actions. Right now Israel is facing a nuclear Iran within the year, A massive amount of rockets in the Hezbolah area of Lebanon and rockets from Gaza.

    The border with Egypt has some Al Kaida, but is still basically a peaceful border, as is Jordan. This peace is hanging by a thread and needs just something like this to unravel.

    The only significant ally Israel has, the U.S, under Obama, is already pressuring Israel to give up the Temple Mount altogether.

    As just as Jewish prayer and or control (or sharing it) of the holiest space for Jews might be, it has not and is not deemed safe by all the governments of Israel. If it would be safe the Third Temple would be standing there now.
    Ben-Gurion could easily have taken it in 1948, but felt that the world would not allow it. In 1967 it was decided that it would be under Israel territory, but under Muslim control.

    Rabbi Ariel is a huge threat to both Israel's holding the Temple Mount and to peace. that's why he is banned.

    Such a terrible risk should be decided by the elected leaders of all the people not some single Rabbi. The last time a similar issue occurred was when the Zealots challenged Roman control of the Temple. They were sure that justice was on their side and G-d would help them. The result was the loss of the Temple Mount and the Land of Israel for 2000 years.

  9. Psalm 74: 7-10 "They have burned your sanctuary to the ground. They have profaned the dwelling-place of your Name. They said in their heart, "We will crush them completely." They have burned up all the places in the land where G-d was worshiped. We see no miraculous signs. There is no longer any prophet, Neither is there among us anyone who knows how long. How long, G-d, shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy blaspheme your name forever?"

    Psalm 74: 12 "Yet G-d is my King of old, Working salvation in the midst of the eretz. "

    Psalm 74: 22 "Arise, G-d! Plead your own cause. Remember how the foolish man mocks you all day. "

    May the people of the Living G-d, Who is King of Heaven and Earth call upon Him in this time. The enemies of the children of the Most High are numbered among their brothers.

  10. The Police, in Israel, seems to have too much of a free rein and way too little accountability for its actions, be they against settlers, rabbis, rightists or leftist demonstrators, etc. If we are to remain a democracy, and not turn into a police state like our Arab neighbors, our government is going to have to reduce the police powers and make them accountable for each incident of abuse of force against civilians.

  11. The Day of the Lord is certainly coming quickly for His enemies are fulfilling their own prophecy. The Lord will pour out His wrath on the ungodly know matter how they declare that they are worshippers of our Lord. By their own words they have condemned their nations and their people.

  12. I believe he was the rabbi who about a year ago was allowed to prostrate flat out on the temple mount toward the kodesh hakedoshim (the holy of holies)… if I'm mistaken please let me know I'm trying to locate the picture of it which I have somewhere… which raised the obvious question in my mind… if he was allowed to do so… why aren't the rest of us..

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