Prayer, clashes - but mostly tight security - on Temple Mount

Visitors were warned not to pray, bow, damage or touch anything.

May 13, 2018 13:00
2 minute read.
Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount for Jerusalem Day, May 13, 2018

Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount for Jerusalem Day, May 13, 2018. (photo credit: MENACHEM SHLOMO)

More than a thousand Jews ascended Temple Mount on Sunday in honor of Jerusalem Day, marking 51 years since IDF commander Motte Gur shouted his famous words: "The Temple Mount is in our hands!"

Scuffles took place throughout the day between Jews, Arab locals and security personnel. At least one Jewish man was arrested on suspicion of bowing.

Videos of a clash between Jews and Arabs were shared on social media. Jerusalem Police blamed the clashes on Jewish provocation. "During a tour of the Temple Mount by Jewish visitors, some of them violated the rules of the visit and caused a provocation. Following which, they were taken out of the mount for identification and clarification of the circumstances," they said.

A video on social media shows three young boys defying orders by taking out an Israeli flag briefly. The video shows the flag being taken away promptly by security. 

The boys were forced to leave the site.

"A day will come very soon, my son, when the Israeli flag will fly with pride on the Temple Mount, in the Temple," wrote Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich in a post in which he shared a video of the three boys. "I rejoice with you and bless you for the courage and national honor you have demonstrated."

The site was open to visitors from all faiths from 7:30 am to 11 am and then again from 1:30 pm until 2:30 pm.

Prior to entry, security personnel gathered groups of 60 men, women and children following a security check, and they entered the area guarded heavily. Each group was kept close together and contained, restricted from roaming the plaza freely. Some 10-15 security guards surrounded the groups as they walked along the walls of the Temple Mount.

Many visitors were bedecked in white and were not wearing any leather in order to respect the sanctity of the holy site. Visitors were warned not to pray, bow, damage or touch anything.

Singing was prohibited as well.

Despite the warnings, many people prayed quietly to themselves.

Jerusalem Day, which is usually a day of high tension in the holy city, is especially so this year, coming one day before the US Embassy is being moved from Tel Aviv to the Jerusalem. Monday is also Independence Day on the Gregorian calendar, marked by Palestinians as Nakba Day, meaning "catastrophe," referring to the 1948 war in which many Arab locals throughout the country were forced to leave their homes.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site for the Jewish people and was the location for numerous pivotal moments in the Bible. It is believed to be the location where God created Adam from the dust, where Abraham brought Isaac in order to sacrifice him and where kings Solomon and Hezekiah built the first and second Temples, respectively.

The site is considered the third holiest Muslim site, believed to be the location from which Muhammad rose to heaven.

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