Following the capitulation by the Israeli government over security measures on the Temple Mount, the Palestinians have embarked on the next stage: protesting Jewish “raids” on the “Al Buraq Wall”, more commonly known as the Western Wall or Kotel.
“Last night, thousands of settlers desecrated the Plaza of Al-Buraq Wall, the western wall of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Wafa, the Palestinian news agency, reported on Monday, noting that the raid “coincided” with the “Ninth of Av, or the so-called destruction of the Temple.”
Wafa stated that the raid took the form of organized ceremonies and prayers, and the settlers’ “improper behavior” was protected by “the occupation forces.”
The “raid” Wafa reported was actually the annual arrival of thousands of Jews at the Western Wall on the Ninth of Av, a day of fasting and mourning commemorating the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Many worshipers spend the entire night at the Kotel, reciting Lamentations and traditional elegies.
The Muslims have not always made such claims to the site. In 1924, the Supreme Muslim Council published “A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif” which proclaimed that its “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” In contrast, the present Mufti, Mohammed Hussein, has been quoted many times in the media as claiming that the site has been holy exclusively to Muslims since the dawn of time.
This increasing Muslim claim to the Temple Mount was given credence in 2016, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution giving Islam a religious monopoly to the Temple Mount. The resolution, referring to the region as “Occupied Palestine”, made no reference to a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, and referred to the Western Wall as “Al Buraq Plaza”.
Despite police restrictions and Arab protests, Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount rose 15 percent according to a Jerusalem Post report. With six weeks left in the Jewish year, at least 17,000 Jews visited their holiest site as compared to a total of 14,908 last year. 1,000 Jews are expected to visit the site during this holiday of Ninth of Av. More than 250 Jews were reported to have entered the site by 9:00 AM, undergoing increased security checks.