In record, more than 2,600 Jews visit Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day

Palestinian Authority, Jordan condemn Israel for allowing ‘extremists’ — including far-right MK Ben Gvir — to visit holy site

Jewish religious nationalists wave an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount, May 29, 2022. (Screen grab)
Jewish religious nationalists wave an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount, May 29, 2022. (Screen grab)

A record number of Jews visited the Temple Mount on Sunday to mark Jerusalem Day, prompting rebukes from Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

According to the Israel Police, some 2,600 Jews were granted entry to the holy site, in groups of 40-50 in two waves in the morning and afternoon.

Hundreds had arrived early in the morning to wait for a chance to tour the site, and many more did not get in.

The figure was an all-time record, according to Hebrew media reports.

It smashed what was previously considered the record, on the fast day of Tisha B’Av in August 2019, when some 1,700 Jews visited.

Among those who visited the site on Sunday was far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir.

Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir makes his way to the Temple Mount during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Temple Mount — which also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque — is administered by the Waqf, a religious trust run and funded by Jordan. The site is the holiest place for Jews, as the place of biblical temples, and Al-Aqsa is the third holiest shrine in Islam, turning the area into a major flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was “playing with fire” by allowing “settlers to desecrate holy sites.”

“[Israel] is disregarding international law and considers itself above the law,” presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, according to the official WAFA news agency.

Abu Rudeineh called for “the international community, especially the US administration, to assume their responsibilities regarding what is taking place.”

Meanwhile, Jordan’s foreign ministry denounced Israel for allowing Ben Gvir and other Jewish “extremists” to visit the holy site.

“The Foreign Ministry spokesperson demanded of Israel that it cease all practices and violations of the al-Aqsa Mosque,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Jordanians also condemned the “provocative, escalatory” Flag March that began later on Sunday, warning it could lead to an eruption of violence.

Though it is a national holiday, Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s conquest of the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, is celebrated nowadays mainly by national-religious Jews.

Most prominently, youths parade through the Old City for the contentious Flag March. Israeli officials have worked to dispel false rumors that the parade route includes the Temple Mount.

Under an increasingly frayed arrangement known as the status quo, Jews are generally allowed to visit the Temple Mount during limited hours, but not pray there or perform other acts of worship that can be seen as a provocation to Muslims.

Jews taking part in the Flag March pass through the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on May 29, 2022, as Israel marks Jerusalem Day. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Prior to the arrival of the Jewish visitors at the site Sunday, dozens of Palestinians barricaded themselves inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and hurled rocks at security forces stationed outside.

In an apparent violation of the so-called status quo, several Jewish visitors who visited the mount raised Israeli flags. The Hamas terror group has previously signaled that the waving of the Israeli flag at the holy site, which includes the al-Aqsa Mosque, could trigger a violent response.

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