A Jewish youth dared flout the police's regulations forbidding Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount on Sunday, the day in which Tisha B'Av was observed this year, and was immediately pounced upon by police, who whisked him away.
The Shema Yisrael – Hear, O Israel – prayer is considered the most basic of all prayers in the Jewish prayerbook, and reciting it is one of the most important mitzvot, or commandments. It is recited in both the morning and evening prayers and begins with the call – “Hear, o Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one” – which is traditionally uttered with the eyes closed and covered by one hand.
It enjoins every Jew to love God “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might,” to remember all commandments and "teach them diligently to your children and speak of them when you sit down and when you walk, when you lie down and when you rise" (Deut 6:7).
The prayer also enjoins the Jew to place its words on his arm and head and on his doorjamb – and indeed, both tefillin, which are worn on the arm and head, and mezuzot, which are placed on doorjambs, contain parchments that bear the Shema prayer.
The prayer is also recited in time of great danger, and was uttered by countless Jews over the ages as they faced persecution and imminent death.
Tisha B'Av marks the anniversary of the destruction of both the First and Second Jewish Temples. In the last decade, there has been a surge in the number of Jews seeking to ascend to the Mount and pray there, and a furious backlash by Muslims. Fearing a destabilization of Jordan's monarchy, among other things, the Israeli government has pursued a policy of strictly forbidding Jewish prayer on the Mount and limiting Jews' physical presence there.