Photo Credit: Jamal Awad/Flash90
Arabs wave a Hamas banner on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Jan. 27, 2023.

Jews will be banned from the Temple Mount during the final days of Ramadan, the Israeli Police told activists on Wednesday.

In past years, police have restricted Jewish worshipers from visiting the holy site during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Israel’s security establishment regards the holiday of Laylat al-Qadr, which falls on Saturday night, as especially sensitive. Ramadan ends on April 9 but is immediately followed by the Eid al-Fitr holiday.


National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees the police, is also an advocate of Jewish visits to the Temple Mount and has made several high-profile walkabouts at the holy site. Ben-Gvir has not commented on the police ban, but it is believed that he was overruled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Activists such as Tom Nissani criticized the police restrictions.

“Instead of enforcing security for [Jewish] visitors, the Israel Police, the prime minister and the minister in charge prefer to capitulate in the face of threats and close the Temple Mount for an unbelievable 16 days. It is clear that this capitulation will invite displays of incitement and hatred and encourage terrorism; a total disgrace,” said Nissani, CEO of Beyadenu, an organization dedicated to strengthening Jewish ties to the holy site.

During last year’s Ramadan, Arabs barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while Hamas squads in Lebanon fired rockets at Israel during Passover, which overlapped with Ramadan.

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. A little over 50,000 Jews visited the Temple Mount in 2023.

The Waqf is overseen by Jordan. Saudi Arabia was trying to get a foothold on the Temple Mount through peace efforts that were underway before October 7.


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