The observance of Tisha B’Av on the Temple Mount began very early Sunday morning, as young Arabs threw stones at police forces in the compound, hours before the official 7 AM opening of the most sacred place on the planet for the ascent of Jews on the occasion of Tisha B’Av (the 9th day in the month of Av).
The Arab rioters arrived on the mountaintop following a call Saturday night by Muslim religious leaders to ascend the mountain and prevent Jews from coming in on Tisha B’Av.
The police entered the compound and dispersed the rioters without arresting any of them. Then, at 7 AM, more than a thousand Jews visited the Temple mount under heavy police security.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday morning held an assessment of the situation with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev and Chief Police Inspector Kobi Shabtai regarding events on the Temple Mount. The PM instructed both officials that the organized and safe visits by Jews to the Temple Mount must continue while maintaining order at the site.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said on Sunday that the Israeli government is tampering with the security and stability of the region, and is dragging the region into a religious war that will burn the entire region (that’s 3 times the word region in one sentence – DI). Abu Rudeineh condemned “the incursion by Israeli occupation forces and settler fanatics into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound early today morning (sic), which saw police officers attacking worshipers at the holy site and detaining many of them.”
“By continuing its policy of incursions into religious places, as is happening today in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel is defying the Palestinian people and disregarding international positions, especially the American position which demanded to adhere to the status quo in Jerusalem.”
Good to know.
Tisha B’Av is only the first tense day on the Temple Mount this week. Tuesday will mark the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice (when Muslims claim Abraham sacrificed Ishmael). In an attempt to prevent clashes, Israel has decided to restrict Arabs’ visits to the compound to married men aged 50 and over and married women over 40.
The Temple Organizations Headquarters has been behind the changes on the Temple Mount, where in recent years the Israeli government has changed its attitude from panic at what the Arabs might do should Jews start ascending in droves to the holy place, to a more resolute policy of protecting Jewish presence there.
Temple Organizations Headquarters’ website notes that “on the one hand, the pain is great. After 54 years of the return of the Temple Mount to Israel, the place is still in its desolation, the menorah lights are still extinguished, the smell of incense has not yet spread out, and the smell of fragrance [of the sacrifices] has not yet returned.
On the other hand, the pilgrims of the Temple Mount and the supporters of the Temple Organizations Headquarters and the Temple Mount Administration look with satisfaction at the great progress we are getting in promoting this holy place. Nice achievements are attributed to the ascents and a good return comes from the financial contribution to the important activity for the sake of the Temple Mount.
Among the variety of activities and achievements of the past year (which can be mentioned publicly) the Temple Organizations Headquarters lists:
- Regular daily prayers (a minyan for shacharit and mincha on the Temple Mount every day).
- Flexing restrictions on the Temple Mount visitation hours.
- Extension of the length of stay for visitors.
- Improvement and decoration of the entrance lobby.
- Cold and hot drinks are available every day.
- Lavish refreshments on holidays for the thousands of pilgrims.
- Chanukah candle lighting at the mountain’s gate with government ministers, MKs, and rabbis.
- And the number of Jews on the Temple Mount is rising and rising by tens of percent. The more the better.
Still, Otzma Yehudit reported on Sunday that a serious incident had taken place on the Temple Mount when Arabs threw stones at a group of Jews who had ascended to the site. According to the report, an Arab sheik demanded that the police keep the pilgrims away, claiming that the members of the group engaged in prayer, and to their surprise, instead of arresting the stone-throwers, the police pushed the Jews out of the site.