“It is a great merit to go up, and to be raised up, to the holy mountain in order to seek guidance for Zion and to strengthen our hold on this holy place,” wrote the rabbis.
The call was led by the Chief Rabbi of Hebron Rabbi Dov Lior, head of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Ma’ale Adumim Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, Chief Rabbinate Judge Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, and another 37 prominent rabbis. The rabbis added that any Jew who goes up to the site must adhere to the religious laws pertaining to the site. This includes immersing in a ritual bath, not wearing leather shoes, and refraining from entering areas forbidden by Jewish law.
The Temple Mount has been the focus of conflict since July 14, when three Palestinian terrorists exited the site with guns, murdered two Druze Israeli policemen, and fled back into the compound. After a firefight on the mount, Israeli police killed the terrorists. The site was closed to everyone until Sunday when it reopened to Muslims with increased security measures that included walk-through metal detectors. The Muslim authorities objected to the detectors and called for a boycott and protests, which quickly turned violent.
During that time, Jews and Christians were permitted to enter the compound. This was the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple that Jews were at their holiest site without Muslim supervision. Waqf (Muslim authority) guards usually accompany Jewish visitors, harassing them and removing them from the site if they exhibit any signs of devotion or emotion. According to the status quo agreement with the Muslim authority, Jews and Christians are not permitted to pray at the site, and the Israeli police continued to enforce this ban on non-Muslim prayer despite the Muslim boycott of the site. Restriction of hours and numbers of non-Muslim visitors were also adhered to during this time. Jews are also subjected to stringent security checks, which include metal detectors, at the Temple Mount and at the Western Wall.
Asaf Fried, a spokesman for the Joint Committee of the Temple Organizations told the Jerusalem Post that over 1,500 Jews have visited the site since the terror attack, more than twice the number than in the same period previously. Fried estimated that 20 percent had never been to the site before.