Hamas has called for Palestinians to protest against Israeli “violations” at religious sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank by performing Friday prayers in al-Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahimi Mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs, along with mosques in the West Bank and Gaza.The Fajr prayers, the first ones of the day before sunrise, are being held in protest of “Israeli Judaization schemes” at religious sites in the West Bank, including at the Temple Mount and the Cave of the Patriarchs. Hamas claimed in a press release that Israeli authorities have escalated the situation at al-Aqsa and have tried to close the Gate of Mercy at the Temple Mount complex again. The press release stated that Israel has been “atrociously beating, arresting and threatening” Palestinian worshipers and has banned them from entering the complex. The terrorist group noted that Jews continue to visit the complex and renovations are occurring along the southern wall of the Temple Mount, warning “against the consequences of these serious Israeli steps.”On Thursday, Jewish visitors visited the Mount and “performed Talmudic rituals,” according to the Jordan News Agency. Israeli police entered the Gate of Mercy with shoes on and took pictures of the inside, according to Palestinian media. “This peaceful campaign is a message to the Israeli occupation and a warning that Palestinian holy sites are a red line,” Hamas saidPalestinian WAFA news reported earlier this month that Azzam Khatib, director of the Waqf in Jerusalem, announced that 29,610 Jewish “fanatics” stormed al-Aqsa Mosque throughout 2019.“All signs and data indicate an escalation in the frequency of violations against the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings during this year through a series of unprecedented trespasses, which constitute an infringement on the historical and legal status of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque as an Islamic mosque for Muslims alone under the patronage of King Abdullah II [of Jordan],” said Khatib.According to Yareah, an organization that promotes Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, 30,416 Jews visited the site in 2019, the first time the number topped 30,000. Additional non-Jewish Israelis and Israeli tour groups visited the site as well, but are not included in Yaraeh’s statistics.2019 saw the number of Jewish visitors almost tripling compared to 2015, when 10,906 Jews visited the site. In 2018, 29,939 Jews visited the Temple Mount.The Waqf director warned against attempts by Israel to “exploit the issue of al-Aqsa Mosque” as a platform for political achievements and electoral purposes for people and groups “who do not understand the dangers of these actions, in their efforts and insistence to agitate the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world.” According to Khatib, the Waqf is combating all measures against the mosque and all its buildings, including the Gate of Mercy, from which Muslim worshipers have been distanced. Tensions escalated around the Gate of Mercy building last year, when the state attempted to prevent the Jordanian Waqf from building an illegal mosque in the structure. The Waqf, an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, administers the Temple Mount site.Visits by religious Jews to the Temple Mount are monitored by Waqf guards and Israeli police – and all Jewish prayer, including silent prayer, is forbidden, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. No sacred Jewish objects, such as prayer books or prayer shawls, may be brought onto the mount, according to the tourism website “Tourist Israel.”The Aqsa Mosque is located at the southern end of the Temple Mount complex.The Jerusalem Post recently revealed Jewish visitors to the site have started praying, undisturbed by police forces. According to Jewish visitors to the site, as of the end of December, police officers continued to allow Jewish prayer on the mount.