The Temple Mount is the holiest site in the Jewish religion. It originally received its notoriety for being the Biblical location of the binding of Isaac in the Book of Genesis.
And He said, “Take your son, your favored one, Yitzchak, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.” (Genesis 22:2)
The 36-acre space is the epicenter of Jerusalem and greater Israel. It was the site of both the first and second temples and is designated to be the location of the future third temple.
The city of Jerusalem has been conquered sixteen times making it the most conquered city in world history. Following the Second Temple’s destruction, the holy of holies is said to be buried at the site with some archaeologists claiming to know the lost Ark of the Covenant’s precise location.
Acclaimed Israeli poet, journalist, and politician Uri Tzvi Greenberg famously stated that: ‘He who controls the Mount, controls the land.’ This adage has been co-opted by many Israeli political leaders decrying the Muslim Waqf’s ongoing challenges to Israeli sovereignty over the holy site.
Many Muslims claim that the Temple Mount is the third holiest site in Islam. However, this claim has been debunked by scholars who have demonstrated that the Al-Aqsa mosque is not on the Temple Mount as they allege but rather in Saudi Arabia.
Islamic tradition itself reveals that the al-Aqsa mosque is near Mecca on the Arabian peninsula. This was revealed in the book “Kitab al-Maghazi”, by the Muslim historian and geographer al-Waqidi.
Although the Temple Mount was liberated by Israel from Jordanian occupation in the 1967 Six-day-war, its keys were almost immediately handed over to the Muslim Waqf authority by then-defense minister, Moshe Dayan. Until this day, Israel has allowed the Waqf to enjoy custodial authority over the site. However, the confusion over who actually controls the Temple Mount has turned the location into a flashpoint of violent riots between local Muslims and Israeli security forces.
The violence reached its peak in 2017 when Arab terrorists from the northern Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm killed two Druze police officers on the mount.
Historically, the Temple Mount was often used as an excuse to escalate Arab violence against Israelis. The 1929 Hebron massacre was initiated after the Jerusalem Mufti falsely claimed that the Jews were ‘invading Al Aqsa.’
Today, Jewish pilgrims make great efforts to enter the Temple Mount and even pray there on a daily basis.