Israeli security forces stand at the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, after Israel removed all security measures it had installed at the compound, and Palestinians entered the compound in Jerusalem's Old City July 27, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Some 12,000 Jews visited the Temple Mount over the last six months, an increase of almost 50% from last year’s figures, according to the Yeraeh organization.
In the same six-month period last year, 8,229 Jews visited the site in comparison to 12,135 this year, said the organization, which promotes Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount in accordance with Jewish law.
In the Hebrew year 5777 (last year), there were more than 22,000 Jewish visitors in total, which itself was a record year and represented a massive increase over the 14,000 the year before.
Yeraeh is expecting lmany visitors during Passover, which begins next week.
Elishama Sandman, the organizations’ spokesman, attributed the increase to three factors. First, he said that the attitude of the police to Jewish visitors has changed significantly over the last two or three years.
Police used to be skeptical of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount in the past, as it is against Israeli law for Jews to pray at the holy site, but they have opened up recently.
In addition, the removal of Murabitat Muslim groups from the Temple Mount that would routinely and systematically harass and scream at Jewish visitors has made the experience much more positive for visitors.
Sandman added that there has also been increased support from communal rabbis around the country, which has also led to an increase in the number of people willing to visit the site.
According to Jewish law, there are parts of the Temple Mount that may not be entered unless one is in a ritually pure state which is impossible to achieve in current times.
It is the position of the Chief Rabbinate and many rabbis from across the religious spectrum that it is forbidden, therefore, to go anywhere on the mount in present times. In recent years, however, several rabbinical heavyweights have ruled that visiting certain parts of the site is permitted provided certain religious measures are taken beforehand, such as immersion in a mikve ritual bath.
Sandman rejected claims that increased Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount is a provocative step that could inflame tensions with the Palestinians and the Muslim world. “Nothing we do is done to antagonize the Palestinians. But as we have seen with this week’s terrorist attack, there will always be excuses for terrorism.”
He also said that the security situation on the Temple Mount is very secure, and praised the police for their efforts in maintaining order at the site.
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