The center of Palestinian violence in recent days has been Har HaBayis, adjacent to the Kosel, and that proximity is deterring mispallelim from visit Judaism’s holiest place during the Aseres Yemai Teshuvah, when attendance is usually high.
The Association of Community Rabbis, which holds Selichos at the Kosel, has witnessed the decline in visitors, and Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu, the organization chairman, sent a letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Mayor Nir Barkat demanding increased security.
“We received dozens of phone calls from people who are afraid to come to Selichos in the wake of recent events,” said Rabbi Eliyahu. “I trust the police will secure all the routes leading to the Kosel as required, and am sure that all worshipers who arrive will receive maximum security.”
He urged the police to “inform the public that the remnant of our Temple is secure to visit, and there are no security concerns that should stop people from visiting.”
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation also noted a steep drop in the number of visitors, but emphasized: “the depiction of the Kosel and the roads leading to it as dangerous is erroneous. There are no confrontations at the Kosel or on the roads leading there. They are safe, thank G-d. Israeli police forces are present in high numbers, and they are not causing friction with Arabs, especially as Har HaBayis is closed during the Selichos prayers.”