“A visit to the Tomb of the prophet Ismouil and Jewish Frenzy” is the title of a video uploaded to YouTube by Turkish pilgrims following their visit two weeks ago to the grave of the prophet Samuel near Jerusalem. The video depicts a group of tourists wearing a yellow ribbon with the inscription “pilgrims” in Turkish, entering the holy site where a minyan of Jews is in the middle of Mincha prayer.
At first, the Turks move in quietly, but then the congregate in front of the blue curtain covering the grave and start their own loud prayer, under the guidance of a clergyman in a white, priestly garb. Their voices drown out the Jewish prayer. In response, Jewish worshipers also raise their voices.
At this point, the cramped little space is deep in tension, and the Jewish worshipers are visibly and increasingly uncomfortable. The Jewish man in charge of the site turns to the Turkish cleric and politely asks him to quiet down his group and leave. The Turk nods, but remains in place as the Turks continue their loud prayers, ignoring the request, and only later, finally, deign to leave.
Makor Rishon interviewed a staff member of the Center for the Development of the Holy Places who was present during the taped incident, the event, who said the Turkish visits are a new phenomenon, which began immediately after the metal detectors fiasco on the Temple Mount. “Since then, Turkish buses have been visiting three or four times a week,” he said, noting that “There are also groups of Muslim tourists from India and China, but they never behave the way these Turkish pilgrims do.”
According to Makor Rishon, the new Turkish pilgrims are followers of one of a celebrity clerics in Turkey, Djoubbali Ahmed Hodja, a regular on the Lalegul TV channel, who has thousands of devoted fans who listen to his sermons. An anti-Semite (he called Bitcoin a Jewish conspiracy), Hodja belongs to the Ismaili branch of Shia Islam, which supports imposing Shari’a Law by joining the government. He is closely linked to the ruling Justice and Development Party.
Makor Rishon cites a research official who says the incidents at the Tomb of the prophet Samuel is part of the Jerusalem campaign under the direct inspiration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The latter has been sending Turkish tourists to brandish “Jerusalem is Islamic” signs on the Temple Mount and to provoke the residents of the Armenian Quarter. He also supports Hamas’ attempts to recruit Arab citizens of Israel from Turkey. The weekly pestering of Jewish worshipers at the prophet Samuel tomb is apparently a new leap in the scope of Turkish provocation against Israel – with the tacit permission of the Israeli government.
The Center for the Development of the Holy Places has issued a statement saying that “according to the dry letter of the law, it is impossible to prevent anyone who wants to from praying at the site. At the same time, we are careful to maintain order in the area and are working to prevent provocations that are liable to ferment violence in the site.”