Photo Credit: Shalev Shalom/TPS
Israeli police escort Jews who ascend the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during Chol HaMoed Pesach, which was celebrated this year at the same time as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Jerusalem, Apr 18, 2022.

About 4,650 Jews visited the Temple Mount during the Passover holiday, a record-breaking number and double the number of visitors recorded during Passover 2021, despite the limitations imposed by the state on the visitors and the violence perpetrated by Muslims against the visitors.

On Wednesday, a new record was set with 1,538 Jewish visits in one morning. The previous record was 816 visits in one morning, and 1,178 for a full day set on the third day of Sukkot in 2020.

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A high number of visitors successfully toured the holy site despite the fact that the Temple Mount was open on Passover for only three and a half hours a day. The visit hours during the afternoon were canceled due to Passover’s overlap with the Muslim month of Ramadan.

This high number of visitors is surprising following the high tensions in Jerusalem’s Old City and the low turnout of visitors in the rest of the city.

Muslim rioters attempted to chase away the visitors and blocked the tour routes with debris, obstacles, and archeological artifacts, and the Jewish visitors walked on new routes, and under heavy police guard. There were no Jewish casualties in any of the incidents.

Temple Mount visitors reported festive and joyful tours, with entire families and baby carriages marching together.

The head of the Temple Mount administration, Rabbi Shimshon Elboim, praised Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman for the activities of the security forces to protect the freedom of movement and worship for the Jewish worshippers “with devotion and out of the sacrifice, day and night.”

The Temple Mount was closed over the weekend for Jewish visits until further notice, the government’s response to Muslim violence at the holy site. It is estimated that the Temple Mount will be closed to Jews at least until the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Fitr after it, two weeks time.

Jews’ visits to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, are limited in time, space, as well as the number of visitors at any given time. While Jews’ rights to worship at the site have improved in recent years, much remains wanting, and the full freedom of worship has yet to be granted by the State of Israel to Jews visiting the Temple Mount.

On several occasions, Jews have been banned from the Temple Mount following Muslim agitation, or following fears that a Jewish presence at the site would agitate the Muslims.

While Muslims enter the holy site freely, Jews are screened by metal detectors, undergo security searches, and are banned from bringing Jewish religious objects to the site.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.