Jordan, Egypt, Turkey all condemn Jewish visits to Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av

Some 1,600 Jews go to holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City during fast; earlier, clashes erupted between Israeli police and Palestinians

Israeli security forces guard as a group of religious Jews visit the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, during Tisha B'Av, on July 18, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
Israeli security forces guard as a group of religious Jews visit the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, during Tisha B'Av, on July 18, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey denounced Israel on Sunday after some 1,600 Jews visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City to mark the fast of Tisha B’Av, following overnight clashes at the holy site between Palestinians and Israeli police.

“The Israeli actions against the mosque are unacceptable and condemnable. They represent a violation of the historical and legal status quo, international law, and Israel’s obligations as an occupying power in East Jerusalem,” Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Daifullah Fayez said in a statement.

The spokesman said a letter of protest on the matter was sent to Israel.

Dozens of Muslim worshipers barricaded themselves on the Temple Mount in the early hours of Sunday, ahead of the arrival of the Jewish visitors. Some of them briefly chanted: “With spirit, with blood, we’ll redeem Al-Aqsa.”

Israeli police subsequently clashed with Palestinians on the scene. According to Palestinian reports, Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades, while police said some Palestinians threw stones.

According to Palestinian media, several Palestinian activists were detained following clashes with police. A spokesperson for Israeli police did not respond to a request for comment.

The clashes came just a few hours ahead of the pilgrimage of over 1,600 Jews to the Temple Mount to mark the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which mourns the destruction of the two Jewish Temples that once stood there. The pilgrimage often causes tension between Palestinians, Jewish visitors, and Israeli security forces.

Under the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, Israel recognized Amman’s special role  on the Temple Mount and other Muslim holy sites in the Old City; Jordan deems itself the “custodian” over Muslim and Christian holy sites in the Old City, but Israel has never acknowledged this. Israel captured those sites from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War.

Israeli security forces stand guard as a group of Jews enter the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, during the Tisha B’Av, on July 18, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

A statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: “Israeli security forces have once again violated the sanctity of al-Haram al-Sharif by allowing racist Jewish groups to raid Al-Aqsa Mosque, attacking Palestinian civilians praying in the area and detaining Palestinian civilians, including children and women, leading to images that offended human dignity.”

“The continuation of such provocations, at a time when the memories of the atmosphere of tension, escalation, and conflict caused by Israel’s attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy month of Ramadan are still fresh in our minds, is extremely dangerous,” the statement added.

Clashes at the site during the month of Ramadan in May, alongside the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, led the Hamas terror group to fire rockets toward Israel, sparking 11 days of conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Cairo also condemned “the renewed violations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli extremists under the protection of the Israeli forces,” a spokesperson for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.

The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism, as the site of the two biblical Temples. It is also the site of the third-holiest shrine in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and has long been a flashpoint between Israelis and Palestinians.

In Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned what he deemed “the dangerous and ongoing Israeli escalation.”

“The Palestinian Presidency… considers this a grave threat to security and stability, and a provocation to the feelings of Palestinians, and holds the Israeli government responsible for this escalation,” Abbas’s office said in a statement.

The European Union’s mission to the Palestinians said it was “concerned over ongoing tensions.”

“Israeli authorities, religious, and community leaders from all sides should act urgently to calm down this explosive situation,” the mission said in a tweet.

A group of ultra-Orthodox Jews pray near the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, on June 18, 2018. Officially, Jewish prayer atop the mount is forbidden. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that rules Gaza, mocked the “straying herds of settlers” ascending the Temple Mount.

“That the occupation is giving free rein to these straying herds of settlers does not reflect control or sovereignty, but rather is an attempt to cover up for impotence and deficiency,” Mohammad Hamadah, a Hamas spokesperson, said in a statement.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group called the clashes “terrorism and aggression that affects all Muslims in the world.”

Anxious to reduce friction with the Muslim world, and given that Orthodox sages generally counsel against ascending the Temple Mount for fear of treading on the sacred ground where the Temple’s Holy of Holies stood, Israel since 1967 has allowed the Jordanian Waqf to maintain religious authority atop the mount.

Jews have been allowed to visit under numerous restrictions, but not to pray.

But a report on Saturday said Israel has quietly started allowing Jewish prayers on the Mount in recent months, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett asserted Sunday that both Jews and Muslims have “freedom of worship” at the site, potentially hinting at a change in policy.

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