Hundreds of Jews visited the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – notwithstanding threats of “serious consequences” made by Jordan.
Hundreds of religious Jews continued their visits to the Temple Mount on Monday in celebration of the festival of Passover, despite explicit threats made by Jordan the same morning over the issue. Five Jews were removed from the site for violating the strict rules enforced, including the rabbi of the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), after 13 others were similarly forced to leave on Sunday.
The Jordanian government issued a harsh statement, warning Israel of “serious consequences” to what it described as “the invasion of settler groups and Israeli occupying forces in the Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Although the IDF liberated the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic Trust) has maintained control over the Temple Mount.
“Israel’s offenses against worshipers on the holy site are a violation of international laws and conventions and could have dangerous consequences,” Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Al Momani threatened in a statement to Jordanian media.
Al Momani demanded that “Israeli occupation authorities immediately stop such moves and deny entry to settlers and Israeli forces to the yards of the holy shrine and allow Palestinian worshipers to enter the mosque.”
Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the compound only during specific hours and from one gate only, although the site is holy to both Jews and Muslims; it is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam.
Religious Jews have additional restrictions. They are divided into small groups, are closely supervised by policemen and Jordanian Waqf members during their visit, and have their path and walking pace dictated by the Israel Police. The restrictions include, for example, the prohibition of praying or the appearance of praying, bowing, singing and drinking water from fountains.
Nine out of 10 entrance gates are designated for Muslims only.
The Israel Police has bolstered its presence in Jerusalem this holiday week with over a thousand extra policemen patrolling the city.
According to both police and Temple Mount rights groups, 204 Jews entered the compound on Monday during visiting hours. The Temple Mount rights groups say that 78 of the Jews entered for a very brief time before being escorted out by police forces. Approximately 20 more Jews were not allowed to enter at all.
During the same hours, according to police, 638 tourists visited the site.
Muslims have relatively free access to the site and Muslim visitors are not counted by police.
Meanwhile, many thousands of Orthodox Jews gathered at the adjacent Western Wall area for the traditional priestly blessing that has taken place every Passover and Sukkot for the past 40 years and is attended by Israel’s chief rabbis.
By: Michael Bachner/TPS and United with Israel Staff