WATCH: Record Numbers of Jews Visit Temple Mount On Fast Of Tisha B’Av

Palestinians pray by the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem Friday, June 9, 2017 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi

TEL AVIV – More than a thousand Jews on Tuesday visited the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem for the Tisha B’Av fast commemorating the destruction of both Jewish temples that once stood there.

Watch a Jewish woman being arrested for praying on the Temple Mount on the Fast of Tisha B’Av

1,043 fasting Jews visited from 7:30 till 11 this morning, a record for a single day, according to Yeraeh, a group advocating for Jewish visitation and prayer rights at the Temple Mount.

The Jewish visitors passed through metal detectors at the Mughrabi Gate – the only gate through which non-Muslims can enter – and were asked to leave their identity cards with police. As per the policy at the holy site, they were escorted by police during the entire visit to ensure that they did not break the regulations on the site, such as those forbidding prayer to non-Muslims.

Nevertheless, police said six people were arrested for not adhering to the regulations, in all likelihood for attempting to pray or bow.

There was an increase in police presence throughout the whole of the Old City during the day and cars were prohibited from entering.

The recent tensions over the Temple Mount and the government’s decision to remove the metal detectors it placed at the site due to furious and violent Muslim opposition was part of what triggered the unusual interest in visiting the site, Yeraeh said.

Asaf Fried, a spokesman for an association of organizations dedicated to Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, told the Jerusalem Post that many more people had been inquiring as to how to prepare religiously to visit the site since tensions erupted a few weeks ago.

“People are very angry, the government’s behavior last week was humiliating and degrading,” said Fried.

“If Moshe Dayan gave the Waqf the keys to the Temple Mount in 1967, then last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave over sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Waqf,” he added, referring to the Jordanian Islamic trust that administers the holy site, which called on Israel to remove all the new security measures installed since a July 14 terror attack saw two Israeli policemen killed there.

Jewish visitors are required to refrain from sex for 72 hours as well as immerse themselves in a mikveh – or ritual bath – prior to ascending the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site.

New records have also been set for Jewish visitation at the Temple Mount during the Hebrew calendar year, with some 18,000 Jews having visited the holy site with organized tour groups compared with last year’s figure of 14,908 – with six weeks of the year still remaining.

Last week, Breitbart Jerusalem toured the site while Waqf officials and Muslim worshipers were still boycotting it. According to Yitzchak Reuven, a Temple Mount activist who accompanied this reporter, the feeling of being on the holy site without having Muslim officials “breathing down your neck” and checking whether silent prayers were quickly being said was a “huge relief.”

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