Photo Credit: Netanel Malchutya/TPS
Israeli police escort Jews visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the week-long Passover holiday on April 9, 2023.

Jewish visits to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount dropped slightly in 2023, according to figures released on Monday by an organization dedicated to strengthening Jewish ties to the holy site.

The Jerusalem-based Beyadenu organization reported that 50,098 Jews visited the Temple Mount in 2023, a dip from the record-breaking 51,483 Jewish visits in 2022.


Beyadenu noted that 8,063 Jews visited the Temple Mount since Hamas’s October 7 massacres at Jewish communities near the Gaza Strip. The terror group sought to incite violence at the holy site.

The organization added that incidents of police detaining Jews or blocking their access to the holy site climbed in 2023. Beyadenu reported that 317 Jewish visitors were arrested or detained, an increase from 141 in 2022. The organization also noted that police banned 85 people from visiting the Temple Mount, a 63% increase.

Beyadenu CEO Tom Nisani said those numbers reflected Israeli government discrimination against Jewish visitors.

“Until today, when we looked back, I didn’t know the numbers were so crazy. But this is what the police look like under [National Security] Minister [Itamar] Ben-Gvir, and I will not hide reality. It’s unfortunate but it’s an undeniable fact,” Nisani wrote on social media.

Ben-Gvir is an advocate of Jews visiting the Temple Mount and has himself made several high-profile walkabouts. As Minister of National Security, the police and prison service are among the institutions under Ben-Gvir’s authority.

The Temple Mount, where the First and Second Jewish Temples were built, is the overall holiest site in Judaism. The Western Wall is the only remnant of a retaining wall encircling the Temple Mount built by Herod the Great in the first century and is the holiest site where Jews can freely pray.

The delicate status quo governing the Temple Mount goes back to 1967 when Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six-Day War. Fearing a religious war, then-defense minister Moshe Dayan agreed to let the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trusteeship, continue managing the holy site’s day-to-day affairs, while Israel would maintain overall sovereignty and be responsible for security.

Rabbis are increasingly divided over Jews ascending to the Temple Mount. For centuries, the widespread rabbinic consensus was that the laws of ritual purity still apply to the site. But in recent years, a growing number of rabbis have argued that ritual purity laws don’t apply to all sections of the Temple Mount and encourage visits to permitted areas to maintain Jewish connections to the Mount.


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