After 20 days of being closed to non-Muslim visitors, the Temple Mount was opened on Sunday morning. The decision coming from the Prime Minister’s office was made despite Muslim riots on Friday.
The closure prohibited Jews from visiting their holy site on May 3 for the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan but was prolonged due to Arab violence at the site. This prohibited Jews from visiting the site on both Jerusalem Day (May 10) and the Biblical feast of Shavuot (May 16). The site was closed due to Arab riots and a Hamas threat that they would target the site with rockets if the police did not leave the site. On Jerusalem Day, Hamas fired seven rockets at Jerusalem. This led to Hamas firing more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities.
Since Friday, the Israeli police arrested more than 30 Arab suspects on the Temple Mount and east Jerusalem for disturbing public order and assaults on police officers.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, a leader in the Israeli right-wing Otzma Yehudit party, welcomed the decision to open the site to Jews but decried the ongoing anti-Jewish policies enforced at the site.
“It is unthinkable that in the Jewish state there should be a racist infraction of rights based on race,” said Ben-Gvir.
Elishama Sandman, chairman of the Yeraeh organization called for enforcing equality of religion at the site.
“The next step needs to be increasing the hours for Jewish visitation, opening on Friday and Shabbat, and designating a place for prayer with tefillin and a Torah scroll,” Sandman said.
On Saturday night, head of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party MK Moshe Gafni called on the prime minister not to reopen the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors. Gafni cited religious laws which are not universally accepted by rabbinic authorities.
“The Temple was destroyed because of our sins, and those who go up to the Temple Mount are liable to spiritual excommunication,” said Gafni.
“Not going up to the mount is the deepest proof of our association with this holy place to which we turn to, from all over the world when we pray,” Gafni said, adding a counterintuitive conclusion that has no clear basis in Torah law. ” I request from you [Netanyahu] to leave the Temple Mount closed to Jews.”