More than 2,000 Jews visited Jerusalem’s Old City Temple Mount on Sunday morning to mark the Jewish day of mourning for Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the destruction of two Jewish temples amid the deadly war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group. Gaza Strip.
Among the pilgrims was Itamar Ben Gvir, an ardent far-right Knesset member who, in times of high tension, makes regular publicized trips to the holy site in what is commonly seen as a deliberately provocative gesture.
Many Jews traditionally visit the Wailing Wall and the Old City of Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av, a fast day that begins on Saturday night and lasts until Sunday evening, to mourn the destruction of the two temples in 586 BC and 70 AD, respectively. In Tisha B’Av, the Book of Laments is also traditionally recited along with a series of mournful poems and songs known as the Kinot.
According to Beyadenu, an umbrella group of Temple Mount activists, around 2,200 Jews climbed the Temple Mount during the day on Sunday, one of the largest ever visitor numbers in a single day.
The current record for most visitors in a single day was broken on Jerusalem Day in May, when nearly 2,600 Jews were put on the cordon. The organization said 1,600 Jews visited the Temple Mount in Tisha B’Av last year.
As clashes broke out on Friday, ahead of the Jerusalem-focused day of mourning, Israeli analysts voiced concerns that the large number of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount could worsen the situation at the flashpoint in Jerusalem’s holy site.
Despite these fears, Sunday morning pilgrimages to the Temple Mount were relatively uneventful.
According to the police, a handful of Jewish visitors were detained and removed from the holy place for violating the terms of their visit – namely by prostrating to the ground and praying loudly, which is forbidden for Jewish visitors to the site.
Police also said that large numbers of Muslim visitors were detained and deported for “disturbing the peace, being provocative, making provocative statements and unsuccessfully trying to disrupt the legal movement of visitors.”
Scene footage released by Ben Gvir’s spokesperson showed some Palestinians at the flashpoint shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “Kill the Jew” in Arabic as they annoyed their lawmakers. Ben Gvir answers “Am Yisrael Chai” or “Long live the Jewish people” in the video.
Police said authorities stopped a series of other clashes between Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday morning.
In one case, two East Jerusalem men allegedly sprayed pepper spray on a group of Jews visiting the Old City. Police said the two suspects were arrested and referred to the courthouse.
Tens of thousands of Jews visited the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City for Tisha B’Av on Sunday morning. Similar numbers visited the site on Saturday night. Although large crowds flocked to the area in the early morning hours of Sunday, the plaza was largely empty by midday as security concerns were compounded in light of the intense August heat and fighting in Gaza on the day of fasting.
Ben Gvir, who also prayed at the Wailing Wall on Saturday evening, insisted that his visit was coordinated with the Israeli Police and Knesset Guards a week ago and that rising tensions after the launch of Operation Dawn would not change his plans.
The MP said in a statement that he had received a series of death threats prior to the visit. He said he hoped the police would take action on the matter, but did not say whether he had filed a complaint.
I’m Gvir An extremist Knesset member from the religious Zionist partyHe made his most controversial visit to the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day in late May.
Ben Gvir’s visit on Sunday was reportedly discussed on Saturday night at a meeting organized by Minister of Public Security Omar Barlev, as well as a meeting of the high-level security cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
Now I have come לקוטל, שריד ביט מקדשנו, לקונן על כורבן הביט ולאתפלם לשלומם של הדרום המוטעפם ולשלשטם של חיילי צה”ל הגיבורים שלנו. pic.twitter.com/QFOmgSzfqX
— איטמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) 6 August 2022
MK Gaby Lasky, from the coalition’s left-wing Meretz party, said on Twitter that Ben Gvir’s visit should be blocked. [of tensions]”
The Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews as the site of biblical shrines, and the campus’ Al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third holiest shrine, turning the area into a major flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The site is managed by the Waqf, a religious foundation managed and funded by Jordan.
According to an increasingly eroded arrangement known as the status quo, Jews are generally allowed to visit the Temple Mount during limited hours and on a short, predetermined route, but may not pray, hold other services, or carry items related to such worship there.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned the UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland on Saturday that Israeli “provocations” on the Temple Mount on Sunday must be prevented.
He also stressed the UN envoy @TWennesland the urgency of preventing any Israeli provocation #Aksa Tomorrow to prevent further climbing. The historical and legal status quo must be respected. Ending tension and restoring calm must be a global priority. It is in the interest of all 2/2
— Ayman Safadi (@AymanHsafadi) 6 August 2022
there were shelves in force in Jerusalemand especially in the Old City and Temple Mount area, to secure the services of the Tisha B’Av fasting day amid the blaze in Gaza.
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev met with senior police officials on Saturday to discuss the preparations, saying “the main task of the police is to maintain calm within the country and ensure that all emergency orders in the south are followed.”
“Police will also be deployed to points across Jerusalem for Tisha B’Av to ensure public safety,” he said.
Earlier this week, before the outbreak of violence in Gaza, a report by Channel 12 said political and security decision makers were concerned about the violence on the Temple Mount on fasting day. Previous Tisha B’Avs saw more than 1,000 Jewish pilgrims visit the flashpoint area, which has been at the center of repeated Israeli-Palestinian violence in recent months and years.
Israel does not see such visits as violations of the status quo, but Palestinians see such large numbers of Jewish visitors as violations of the status quo.
The increase in Jewish visitors has occurred throughout the year, not just at Tisha B’Av, as public opinion – particularly in the national religious camp – has changed to support the practice.
Visits by Jews also increasingly included prayers—sometimes by a majority, but more often by individuals. Such behavior was outlawed by the Israeli Police, who escorted Jewish visitors throughout the site, but footage from recent years has shown that officers often allow silent prayers to continue, as Palestinians claim, worsening the status quo.
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