Record number of Jews visit Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, despite riots

Ron Cantor —  August 15, 2019 — Leave a comment
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When the somber Jewish observation of Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the Temple and other tragedies throughout Jewish history, fell on the same day as the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, thousands of Jews and Muslims converged on the Temple Mount causing riots to break out on Sunday.

Tisha B’Av—the ninth of Av—is a somber holiday that commemorates many tragedies that fell on that day:

  • The spies returned with a bad report
  • The destruction of the first temple
  • The destruction of the second temple
  • The expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290
  • The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1490
  • World War I begins
  • Treblinka death camp begins operating and start of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto

Police initially had closed the site to non-Muslims. They opened it later allowing 1,700 Jews on the site, but Arabs at the site began chanting “Allahu Akbar,” throwing chairs and other objects for the entire hour the police held the site open to Jews. In a video, Waqf Director Azzam al-Khatib and Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein urged on the angry mob

“In spirit and blood, we will redeem you,” they said. Once again, proving that peaceful coexistence is not one of their top priorities. If Jews chanted something like that, there would be international outrage—and rightly so.

We do not judge Arab Muslims on the same standard, effectively giving them a pass when they act out. In fact, it is a horrible discrimination against Muslims. We are basically saying, “We understand that you are ignorant savages, hellbent on shedding blood, so we are not going to hold you to the same standard as the non-murderous, barbaric world.”

Causing further incitement, local Islamic authorities — the Waqf — had urged Muslims to converge on the site in even greater numbers in order to prevent Jews from praying there on Sunday.

On Tisha B’Av, many Jews fast and read the book of Lamentations. They also ascend the site of the former temple to mourn its destruction. Eid al-Adha, Festival of Sacrifice, is one of the larger Muslim holidays and draws tens of thousands of worshippers to the site for prayers. This year both the Jewish and Muslim observances fell on the same day.

“This decision comes after the organizations of the alleged Temple requested the occupation government to allow Jews to break into Al-Aqsa during Eid,” the Higher Islamic Commission, the Council for Waqf and Islamic Affairs and the Supreme Council of Fatwa said in a joint statement on Friday.

Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, Mufti of Jerusalem, also announced that the Eid prayers in al-Aqsa would be delayed for an hour, to start at 7:30 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, in order to hinder Jewish access to the site. Indeed, on Sunday morning some of the 80,000 Muslim worshippers confronted police on the Temple Mount, causing them to close the site to Jews, citing “high friction potential.”

Many Israelis were irate that police initially closed the site including many right-wing politicians and news commentators.

“The gate was supposed to open at 7:30 [a.m.] but the police [are] showing weakness and fear, and [have] not yet announced whether to open the gate to Jewish ‘visitors’ for fear of rioting by ‘local’ Muslims,” tweeted Maariv newspaper’s Avishai Grinzaig. “In doing so, the police [show] the world that terrorism pays off and … also [show] who really controls the mount. (Hint: Not us).”

Police quelled the violent protests, but four officers and several Muslims including the head of the Waqf were injured.

Last year, some 1,400 Jews ascended to the Temple Mount for Tisha B’Av, a record number. However, this year, despite the violence and concerns that Jews would not be given access, more than 1,700 Jews visited.

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