It’s “that time of year” again at the Temple Mount, when thousands of Jews flock to the holiest site on earth in Judaism – and Israel Police are especially vigilant in making arrests.
By 9:00 am Sunday morning, the second day of the Passover holiday, three adult Jews and two minors had already been removed from the site where the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem once stood.
No information was released to media on why the little group was pulled out of the compound, over which the Jordanian Islamic Waqf exerts control. The Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque are both built on the site.
By the end of non-Muslim visiting hours, 13 tourists had been removed from the site.
“The police are working and will continue to work with determination against any attempt to disturb the public peace and security, with favoritism,” Israel Police spokesperson Luba Samri said in a statement Sunday. “We will not allow disturbances of public order or security and we will act decisively against anyone who tries to do so.”
But according to Yehuda Glick, head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, Jews are not coming to the site to create “disturbances.” They are coming out of instinct, to connect with the sanctity of their ancient birthright. “People want to come to connect to the Temple Mount” said Glick. “No one has the desire to create any disturbance. People want to come to connect … I would like everyone to come and that the Temple Mount will be as it should – a center of world peace.”
Passover is one of three mandatory festivals requiring Jews to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Jews do indeed stream into the ancient holy city, including many who feel compelled to ascend the Temple Mount.
Muslim Arabs who pray in the mosque on the site are especially incensed by this.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced prior to the holiday that extra security forces would be deployed in the area to prevent “all sorts of extremists [from spreading] lies about our policy concerning the Temple Mount.”
In Biblical times, special animal sacrifices were made in the Holy Temples at this time. The sacrifices ceased with the destruction of the Second Temple by the occupying Romans and the Diaspora.
There are small groups of Jews who now are determined to renew the practice in preparation for the coming of the Messiah and the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple. Police usually arrest a handful of men and sometimes boys who are being taught the sacrificial ways of the ancients.
On Friday, at first three and then eventually 10 men were detained for bringing goats to a location in the Old City for the purpose of carrying out a Pascal sacrifice. It is forbidden by Torah law to carry out an actual bona fide Pascal sacrifice without the existence of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.