Hundreds of Jews visit Temple Mount after Palestinian riots in al-Aqsa

Jews begin entering Temple Mount • Jordan warns of 'catastrophic consequences' if police remove Palestinians from mosque again

 Jewish worshipers are seen at the Temple Mount on April 9, 2023 (photo credit: TEMPLE MOUNT ADMINISTRATION)
Jewish worshipers are seen at the Temple Mount on April 9, 2023

At least 842 Jewish worshipers made the pilgrimage to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, the first day of Passover's hol hamoed and on the day of the Birkat Kohanim ("priestly blessings") at the Western Wall, the Temple Mount Administration said.

This represents a 43% rise in the number of worshipers who visited the Temple Mount during Passover compared to last year, the administration noted, thanking National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai for their "dedication as part of attempts to permit the entry of Jewish worshipers to the site."

Jews began entering the site at 9:00 a.m. after Palestinians barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa mosque on Saturday night, with concerns that clashes would break out if police removed them from the site.

As of the beginning of Fajr prayers on Sunday morning, entry to the complex was open and police had not entered to remove those inside.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry warned on Saturday night of "catastrophic consequences" if police forces go into al-Aqsa to remove Palestinians, stressing that such a move would push the situation "towards more tension and violence, for which everyone will pay the price."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded to the Jordanian statement later in the night, writing "Those who desecrate the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and barricade themselves inside it are a dangerous mob, radicalized and incited by Hamas and other terror organizations."

"We call on Jordan, through the Waqf guards, to immediately remove from the Al-Aqsa Mosque these extremists who are planning to riot tomorrow during Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount and the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall."

Hamas spokesman for the city of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hamadeh, warned that "The aggression of the occupation will only be met with resistance, and the resistance is ready to respond to the crimes of the occupation in a manner equivalent to the size of the crime."

Hamadeh added that "Ben-Gvir and his government bear full responsibility for what will happen to Al-Aqsa Mosque and those stationed in it. Al-Aqsa is a red line, and attacking it is tampering with detonators that began to explode in the face and sides of the occupation."

Tensions come after rocket fire following last week's clashes

In the weeks since the month of Ramadan began, police have repeatedly removed Palestinians who attempted to stay overnight in the mosque, citing an agreement police say they reached with the Jordanian Waqf against such stays and concerns that the Palestinians were preparing to attack Jews who visit the site on weekday mornings.

Last week, Palestinians and police clashed in al-Aqsa after dozens of Palestinians barricaded themselves in the mosque ahead of the eve of Passover.

Police entered al-Aqsa, firing stun grenades and working to remove the people barricaded inside. Palestinians in the mosque fired fireworks and threw stones at the Israeli forces. Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured or arrested in the clashes.

Footage from the scene published by Palestinian media showed police officers hitting Palestinians in the building with chairs and batons and arresting many of them.

A few hours after the clashes last week, 10 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel, followed by further rocket fire in the next two days from Gaza and Lebanon toward Israel.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.