Israeli flag removed from Tomb of Patriarchs during prayer service

Right-wing organization condemns incident, points to frequent use of Palestinian flags at site.

By JEREMY SHARON   SEPTEMBER 12, 2021 18:50

 Palestinians attend Friday prayers in Hebron near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, August 20, 2021  (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)

Palestinians attend Friday prayers in Hebron near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, August 20, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)

Border Police at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron demanded on Sunday that a group of Jewish worshippers remove an Israeli flag they had brought in at the site, arousing consternation from right wing groups and activists.

 Footage emerged on social media of the incident in which Border Police officials were seen telling a group of worshippers at the holy site to remove the flag. The incident happened on Sunday morning during the Slichot prayers of repentance said in the period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. 

The specific area of the Tomb of the Patriarchs where the incident took place was in the hall of the tombs of Isaac and Rebecca which is is generally closed to Jewish worshippers throughout the year but opened during the High Holy day period. 

According to the right-wing Btsalmo organization which obtained footage of the incident, the border police officials stopped the prayer service until the flag was removed. Btsalmo also noted that Palestinian worshippers frequently bring in PLO flags into the Cave of the Patriarchs, and strongly criticized the difference in enforcement. 

The Jerusalem Post understands that there is no blanket ban on bringing flags into the site, but that “security considerations” and a desire to “avoid provocation” led to the instructions to remove the flag on Sunday morning. 

“It is the right of the Jewish people to pray with Israeli flags in any place and certainly at the Tomb of the Patriarchs,” the Btsalmo organization said in a statement to the press following the incident.  “It is unthinkable that after hundreds of years during which Jews were completely prevented from  entering the site Jews should now be denied the right to fly their national flag.“

“The flying of a flag is not a provocation or an attempt to offend anyone. Every week dozens of Palestinian flags are brought in and no one stops them.”

The Border Police did not issue a formal statement in response to the incident. 

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