Jordan, PA protest as record number of Jews visit Temple Mount for Tisha B’Av

Amman condemns ‘provocative incursions’ by some 1,400 Jewish visitors to the holy site to mourn destruction of ancient temples

Jewish visitors scuffling with police on the Temple Mount, July 22, 2018. (screen capture: Facebook)
Jewish visitors scuffling with police on the Temple Mount, July 22, 2018. (screen capture: Facebook)

A record number of Jews were said to have visited the Temple Mount on Sunday to mark the Tisha B’Av fast mourning the destruction of the two biblical temples, prompting rebukes from Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Yehudah Glick, a Likud MK and Temple Mount activist, said that 1,400 Jews visited the holy site. That number would surpass the record 1,300 Jews who visited the Temple Mount last year for Tisha B’Av.

However, Firas al-Dibis, the media coordinator of the Muslim Waqf, put the number at 1,023, according to PA state-run news outlet WAFA. Police did not immediately respond to The Times of Israel with an official tally.

Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the destruction of both temples and several other disasters in Jewish history, began Saturday evening and will end at nightfall on Sunday. Both temples stood on the mount, which today houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Shrine.

The Temple Mount is administered by the Waqf, a religious trust run and funded by Jordan. The site is holy to both Judaism and Islam and is a major flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some 10 people were arrested while on or near the Temple Mount holy site, though several of them have reportedly been released.

A video posted by the group Students for the Temple Mount showed large crowds on the esplanade and scuffles with police. Another video posted by the group showed police leading away a Jewish man for prostrating himself at the site in violation of its rules prohibiting non-Muslim prayer.

Glick, who has pushed for more Jewish activity on the compound, said he hopes to see “thousands of Jews visiting the site,” contrasting it to periods in the past when Jews were barred from the site for fears of tensions with Muslim worshipers.

Jordan said it presented a letter of protest to Israel’s Foreign Ministry over alleged violations at the Temple Mount by the Jewish visitors.

According to the state-run news agency Petra, Minister Jumana Ghneimat condemned “the provocative incursions of extremists and settlers that took place today into the courtyards of the holy site.”

Ghneimat said the visits constituted violations of Israel’s obligations and would enrage Muslims worldwide.

A wooden footbridge leads up from the Western Wall to the Mughrabi Gate of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City November 28, 2011. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90).

The Palestinian Authority also protested the visits, with a government spokesman calling on the international community to take immediate action “to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

“Today is a dark day in the history of Jerusalem and Palestine,” Yousif Mahmoud, the spokesman, said in a statement published on Wafa, the official PA news agency.

The Temple Mount in recent years has often been at the center of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

After two Israeli policemen were shot dead in a terror attack at the site last year by three Arab Israelis, Israel heightened security measures at the compound, leading to nearly two weeks of protests by Palestinians. Muslim worshipers refused to enter the Temple Mount until the security installations at entrances to the site were removed, while Palestinian protesters staged near-daily protests in and around East Jerusalem and the West Bank, some of which turned violent.

The measures, including metal detectors, were eventually removed following heavy pressure from Jordan and the Palestinians.

Adam Rasgon and Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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