For the second day in a row, a group of haredi yeshiva students tried to block Greek Orthodox Christians from entering the compound that houses both the purported tomb of King David and the room where the Last Supper was purportedly held.
Haredim Again Try To Prevent Christians From Entering Complex That Houses King David’s Purported Tomb
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
For the second day in a row, a group of haredi yeshiva students tried to block Greek Orthodox Christians from entering the compound that houses both the purported tomb of King David and the room where the Last Supper was purportedly held, the Jerusalem Post reported.
But while haredi protesters numbered in the hundreds on Sunday, yesterday the number had dropped to only about 20, according to police.
“The Christians called police to remove them and [police] units arrived at the scene immediately to allow the [Christian] representatives to go into the area. The group [of haredi protesters] was peacefully dispersed and no arrests were made,” police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld reportedly said.
However, at Sunday’s much larger and more violent anti-Christian protested at the purported tomb, police also made no arrests, and they also allowed haredi protest leaders to set terms for the Christians to enter, including demanding that they not be allowed to bring crosses with them – despite the fact that Christian entry to the site is protected by law and is limited to three days each year, including Pentecost, which was Sunday on the Greek Orthodox calendar.
Rosenfeld described Monday’s smaller haredi demonstration as a provocation.
“This was an unnecessary and provocative step taken by the youths, and police quickly responded to prevent any further incidents from taking place,” Rosenfeld told the Post.
The building in question is part of the original Hagia Zion, a Byzantine church built in the 4th Century CE after the site came to be identified as the site of the Last Supper and as one of the earliest gathering spots for early Christians.
The first claim that the site is also the burial place of King David was not made until about 800 years after that.
Writing about 1173 CE, Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela claimed the tomb of King David had been discovered there during repairs to the church.
After the June 1967 Six Day War, most of the building was given by the state to the Diaspora Yeshiva – but with the conditions that the state would control the purported tomb and the Last Supper room above it, that Christian access to the Last Supper room would be maintained, and that Muslim access to the third floor mosque would be maintained.
Academic scholars – and even many Orthodox and some haredi rabbis – believe the purported tomb likely is not actually the burial place of King David.
Nonetheless, some haredim – many from a Breslov hasidic sect – and hard right-wing Zionist Orthodox activists have launched increasingly frequent and strident protests to prevent Christians from having access to the site. They have also claimed that Israel plans on giving control of the site to the Catholic Church, even though there appears to be no credible evidence to support that claim.