Thousands violate COVID-19 guidelines in Temple Mount gathering

Many are calling out the gathering for its direct violation of Health Ministry guidelines, as outdoor gathering is still limited.

MUSLIMS PRAY as they mark the holiday of Eid al-Adha in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, in July.  (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
MUSLIMS PRAY as they mark the holiday of Eid al-Adha in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, in July.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
Due to an easing of coronavirus restrictions, thousands of Muslim worshippers flocked to Jerusalem's Temple Mount on Friday for the first time since Israel went into its third lockdown, Israeli media reported. 
The site is known by the Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, and is where the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock are located. It is often a source of contention between Israel and the Arab world due to its high importance to both Judaism and Islam.
KAN News estimated crowd numbers to reach around 15,000.
Many are calling out the gathering for its direct violation of Health Ministry guidelines, as outdoor gathering is limited to a maximum of 20 people, according to the Health Ministry's coronavirus guidelines website.
In addition to the ultra-Orthodox, the government has intently focused its attention on the Arab sector for high coronavirus morbidity rates. 
Earlier this week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited a Clalit vaccination center in the Arab town of Zarzir with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein to help encourage vaccination among the Arab population, which the prime minister said has increased in recent weeks but still lags behind the rest of the population.
Only 66% of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) over the age of 60 have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Health Ministry, and only 57% of Arabs. In contrast, 90% of the rest of the public over the age of 60 have received at least their first shot.
Moreover, while 36% of all Israelis have been vaccinated, this includes 29% of the haredi population, 19% of Arabs and 42% of everyone else.

Maayan-Jaffe Hoffman contributed to this report.