Palestinian leaders express outrage at Jewish calls to visit Temple Mount

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein demanded that the site be protected and held the Israeli government responsible for any escalation.

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August 8, 2019 09:35
3 minute read.
Orthodox Jews on the Temple Mount

Orthodox Jews on the Temple Mount. (photo credit: MENACHEM SHLOMO)

The London-based Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the "extremist Jewish 'Union of Temple Organizations'" called for Jews to storm the Aqsa Mosque on the occasion of Tisha Be'Av, which runs into the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha this year.

The report, published Wednesday, said that Jews were being called to "storm the mosque." There were no Israeli sources confirming such a report.
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein demanded that the site be protected and said that he would hold the Israeli government responsible for any escalation.

A member of the Fatah Central Committee, Jamal Muheisen, considered the calls a "challenge to the people's will and to Jordan," according to the daily.


Muheisen also claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the calls to storm the mosque, in an effort to promote himself as more extremist in order to gain votes from the religious sector.

Eid al-Adha, known as the "festival of sacrifice," coincides with the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and commemorates Ibrahim's (Abraham) readiness to sacrifice his son in order to demonstrate his dedication to G-d, according to the Independent.


The Eid begins on the evening of Sunday, August 11, and ends on the evening of Thursday, August 15.


From Saturday night, August 10, until Sunday evening, Jews mark Tisha B'Av, the day that the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, by fasting for 25 hours and abiding by other mourning practices, including sitting on the floor or low chairs and reciting the Book of Lamentations (Megillat Eichah), in which the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile.


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 tourism website Tourist Israel.


While Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that "every Jew has the right to ascend the Temple Mount, to pray on it, and to commune with his Creator," they also decided that "this right, like other basic rights, is not an absolute right. And in a place at which the likelihood of damage to the public peace and even to human life is almost certain, this can justify limiting the freedom of religious worship and also limiting the freedom of expression."


The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants has been monitoring social media posts by the reported "Union of Temple Organizations" and has found that they are submitting a request to the minister of internal security to increase the duration of Jewish visits to the Temple Mount and to allow entry from all the gates.


The ministry urged all parties involved to "deal seriously with these calls and requests," according to Asharq Al-Awsat.


Since no organization with the exact name "Union of Temple Organizations" exists, the quoted name may be a translation of the "Joint Headquarters of the Temple Organizations" group. The group does have a Facebook post encouraging Jews to visit the Temple Mount throughout the Nine Days leading up to Tisha B'Av, as well as posts encouraging Jews to go up to the Mount on Tisha Be'Av itself.


These posts by the joint headquarters list the hours during which Jews are permitted by law to visit the site and do not contain any statements encouraging Jews to break the law.

On Wednesday, Muhannad Idris, a Waqf guard on the mount, and Raed Zghayer, a sanitation worker on the Mount, were arrested by Israel Police. Idris was photographed with multiple injuries after the arrest, including a head injury.


"During standard visits to the Temple Mount this morning, one of the locals began to curse and spit at the visitors," said an Israel Police spokesperson. "When he resisted arrest by police, he began to attack them and injured an officer, who was transferred for medical treatment. While attacking the officer, the suspect was also injured and was transferred for medical treatment after his details were taken by police."

On Wednesday evening, clashes broke out between Palestinian youth and Jews near the Chain Gate entrance to the Temple Mount, according to the news agency.


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