Jerusalem police will decide on whether to allow Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount on Tisha Be’av Sunday after assessing the security situation in the morning.The Waqf called on Muslims to pray in the mosques on the Temple Mount during the Jewish holiday of Tisha Be' Av on Sunday, to prevent Jews from going up there to pray, Army Radio reported on Friday.
The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a branch of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, is the Muslim authority managing the Islamic holy sites on the Temple Mount, including the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
According to the Army Radio, a Waqf document circulating in Arab media invited all Muslims living in the Jerusalem area to go pray in Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock instead of in their local mosques, to prevent Jews from going up during the holiday.
The site, referred to in Hebrew as Har Habayit (Mount of the House) and in Arabic as Haram esh-Sharif, is considered holy by both religions. However, an agreement was reached after Israel conquered the Old City in 1967, allowing Jordan to maintain civil administration over the area and restricting Jewish access to it: Jews and non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Temple Mount during limited hours and days, but they are not allowed to pray there.
In recent years, a movement calling for the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount has become more vocal and attempts to pray there in spite of the prohibition have been more frequent.
Starting on Saturday night, Tisha Be' Av mourns the destruction of both the First and the Second Jerusalem Temple in 586 BCE and 70 CE. On the day of Tisha Be' Av, Jews observe mourning practices including fasting, sitting on the floor or low chairs and reciting the Book of Lamentations (Megillat Eichah), in which the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of the city and the subsequent exile of the Jews.
This year, the end of Tisha Be' Av coincides with the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the "festival of sacrifice." Tensions on the Temple Mount often increase when Jewish and Muslim holidays overlap. to allow Jewish visitors on the site during Tisha Be' Av. One of them, the Students for the Temple Mount, sent a letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.Earlier this year, when the Israeli police decided that Jews would be allowed to enter the Temple Mount for Jerusalem Day, in spite of the holiday falling in the last days of Ramadan, violent riots broke out.Clashes between the police and some Muslim worshipers broke out earlier on Wednesday. On Friday morning, hundreds of Muslims gathered in the mosques on the mount for Friday prayers, Palestinian media reported. Many prominent rabbis also forbade Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, due to the concern that the visitors might step on sacred areas where people were not allowed to go when the Temple still stood.