The Tisha B’Av night procession of the Women in Green movement took place on Wednesday night under the coronavirus restrictions, with only fifty marchers allowed to participate, Kipa reported. The Women in Green emphasized that the fifty marchers represented the thousands of marchers who had arrived from all over the country every Tisha B’Av night for the past 25 years.
The procession, which opens every year with a reading of the Book of Lamentations, is an ancient Jewish tradition that was banned under the British Mandate and renewed in the 1990s by the Women in Green.
Attorney Nili Kupfer-Naouri, chairwoman of Israel is Forever, said: “Once again we’ve forgotten that God gave us this land, again we’ve forgotten that Judea and Samaria and the Temple Mount are the source of our right over the whole land. We must heed the call of Caleb the son of Jephunneh, ‘Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.’ We heed the call of Joshua Bin-Nun, Israel’s first chief of staff, and act like a sovereign. We must stop crying on Tisha B’Av, we must take action.”
As he does every year, historian Arie Klein led the procession and told the stories of the unique history of Jerusalem at stops along the hike. The first of these was Independence Garden in central Jerusalem, where, next to the garden, stood the large water pool that provided water for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims on the Temple holidays.
Many public officials sent their video greetings to the marchers, among them Minister of Higher Education and Minister of Water Resources Ze’ev Elkin, who in his remarks yearned for the day when the procession would pass through the Old City on its way to the Temple Mount, where the third Temple would stand.
Former Transport Minister, MK Bezalel Smotrich, stressed in his greeting that Jerusalem is a national matter and its rebuilding concerns the renewal of the national agenda and is not a private matter: “There is one day when we are reminded of the absence of our sanctuary, and this yearning is expressed by this march, which surrounds the walls of Jerusalem, which reflects them in the most sacred and stately inner sense.”
“These longings are the engine that should drive our motivations all year long,” Smotrich said. “We will connect to the sadness and mourning of the destruction and draw a lot of strength from it for the building of the land and Jerusalem as the core of our national rising.”
Itamar Yom Tov, a representative of the Sovereignty Youth Movement, noted that 15 years ago, our youths marched with orange flags as a struggle against displacement and deportation from the Gaza Strip, while now the youth are marching with another statement, calling for sovereignty. “Instead of deportation let’s impose sovereignty,” he said.
Yonatan Yosef, a member of the Jerusalem City Council, participated in the procession and shared information about the planning commission meeting that had taken place Wednesday at the Jerusalem City Council, and about many places in Jerusalem that still need to be built, such as Atarot and Givat Hamatos.
“Wherever Jews do not settle, others come and seize the land,” Yosef warned, promising to work for the tangible construction of Jerusalem and hence the entire country.
The procession ended on the road leading to the Lions Gate, where the closing rally of the entire event took place.
Yehudit Katzover and Nadia Matar, the leaders of Women in Green, spoke about the importance of the procession as an expression of Israeli sovereignty over all the parts of Jerusalem, a fixing of the loss of sovereignty, the real expression of which was the destruction of the temples and our exile.
Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Aryeh King, recalled the 1950 years that have passed since the destruction, years in which the stones of Jerusalem yearned for the people of Israel to want and long for them.
As in every year, the procession concluded with the singing of Hatikvah and I Believe, and the marchers made their way to prayers and mourning in the Western Wall plaza.