Police forcibly removed at least 13 Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount on Sunday, purportedly for violating the ban against all forms of non-Muslim worship.
The Temple Mount has particular significance during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which is taking place this week, as Jews from all over Israel flock to Jerusalem to visit the holy site as per God’s commandment:
“Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto Me in the year. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep; seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, at the time appointed in the month Abib–for in it thou camest out from Egypt; and none shall appear before Me empty.” (Exodus 23:14-15)
In anticipation of the mass crowds of Jewish visitors, security forces throughout Jerusalem, especially in the Old City, are on high alert for any signs of an increase in Arab violence that may target the pilgrims and vacationers over the coming week.
The Temple Mount in particular will be more heavily scrutinized than usual as hundreds of Jews are expected to ascend. In order not to provoke Muslim violence, security forces will be particularly eyeing the Jewish visitors to ensure none of them attempt to pray or teach Torah as doing so is explicitly banned by Jordanian law and is punishable by arrest. Although the hotly contested area is Judaism’s holiest and treasured by Jews throughout the world, Muslim authorities maintain near-total control and routinely threaten extreme violence should any Jew attempt to worship there.
Due to high tensions amid the holiday season, several minor altercations broke out at the Temple Mount on Sunday between Jewish visitors and groups of Muslims, Arutz Sheva reported. Clashes apparently were instigated by Islamists who harassed the Jews by chanting slogans and threatening them.
Additionally, Arutz Sheva reported at least one Arab was removed from the Temple Mount after causing disturbances.
At least 1,043 visitors made their way to the holy site on Sunday, 885 of whom were foreign tourists.