Despite Arab violence, hundreds of Jews ascended to their holiest site, the Temple Mount, on Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, commemorating the destruction of the two Temples that once stood precisely there.
Calling on Arabs to come to the site
Violent Arabs began to confront police before dawn on Sunday, a day when normally very few Muslims come to worship. Muslim leaders called on Arabs to come to the site in order to prevent Jews from ascending. The Arabs barricaded themselves into the compound in an attempt to prevent the police from entering and, according to some media reports, pelted police with stones.
עשרות מוסלמים התבצרו הלילה במסגד אל אקצא במענה לקריאות להגיע למקום ולמנוע עליית יהודים להר הבית בתשעה באב. עימותים התקיימו במקום עם המשטרה, שירתה כדורי ספוג ואמצעים לפיזור הפגנות. לא נמסר על נפגעים@SuleimanMas1 pic.twitter.com/xc7ru9tGsg
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 18, 2021
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was consulted and he instructed the police to ensure that Jews would be allowed to ascend. Bennett met with Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev and Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai after police entered the area to stop rocks being thrown from al-Aqsa Mosque.
Safe ascendance of Jews to the Mount
“The prime minister instructed to allow organized and safe ascendance of Jews to the Mount while keeping order at the site,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Israeli police entered and used sponge-tipped bullets and crowd dispersal methods to clear the area.
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) July 18, 2021
Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza and a terrorist organization, issued a warning on Friday, saying that Jews visiting the Temple Mount was Israel “playing with fire”. Hamas called on Palestinians to “keep their fingers on the trigger” to defend Jerusalem.
Jews who visited the site was over 1,000
The Mughrabi Gate, the only entrance accessible by non-Muslims, opened at 8:00 AM to allow the hundreds of waiting Jews to enter the Temple Mount compound. It is believed the number of Jews who visited the site was over 1,000. Last year, about 1,000 Jews visited the site despite coronavirus restrictions. In 2019, the police barred Jews from visiting due to Arab violence, permitting only about one dozen Jews to enter. In 2018, some 1,400 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av.
The Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha will begin on Monday evening and Jews will be banned from the Temple Mount during the holiday.
MK Amichai Chikli (Yamina), who was turned away by police when he tried to visit the site last month, succeeded in entering the site.
The greatest national symbol
“This is the site of the Temple,” Chikli said as he entered. “It is our greatest national symbol. This is way beyond a religious issue. This is an issue of closing a historical cycle. This isn’t even an Arab issue. This is closing a cycle that began with the Romans.”
Ayala Ben-Gvir, the wife of Otzma Yehudit MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, went to pray at the Temple Mount Sunday morning. She said to the media that “it is important not only to sit and cry, but to show up and go on the Temple Mount.”
“Whoever controls the Temple Mount controls the Land of Israel in its entirety, and this is how we will work towards control of this holy and important site,” she said.
“It was wonderful,” Fried told Israel365 News. “It was beautiful weather and the Arabs were kept out of sight, allowing us to experience our holiest site fully.”
Upholding the law
Recent reports claim that police have been upholding the law that ensures equal religious rights at the site. Fried confirmed this.
“Jews were studying holy writings and praying, even completing the sections said in a quorum. We read from the Torah, reading from cell phones since books are forbidden. We were not allowed to stand in place so we prayed as we walked.”
The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (1948) guarantees freedom of religion for all. A 2015 Jerusalem magistrate court decision upheld the rights of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. The law permits the police to make temporary restrictions based on security considerations. Until recently, this has resulted in a total ba on non-Muslim prayer.