Israeli worshipers storm police barricades at Western Wall

More than the 1,000 visitors permitted to visit the Western Wall showed up on the fasting day of Tisha B’Av, leading to scuffles and removal by police.

al-monitor The golden Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine dominates the Temple Mount on which it stands, and at right, the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest shrine, in this aerial shot of Jerusalem's Old City taken Oct. 20, 2005. Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images.

Topics covered

social distancing, covid-19, coronavirus, israeli police, al-aqsa, judaism, jews, temple mount

Jul 30, 2020

Hundreds of Israeli Jews visited the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem on July 30, marking the fast day of Tisha B’Av. According to Jewish tradition, both Jerusalem Temples located on the site were destroyed on the same date, years apart. Regulations at the site, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews, prevent Jews from praying there while visiting. Thus, police detained 13 Jewish worshipers for defying the rules and lying on the ground in prayer and mourning. Another 10 Jewish visitors were detained today and taken out of the compound for similar reasons.

Jews are allowed to ascend the Temple Mount compound during two times slots a day — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Police reports read that about 800 Jewish visitors entered the site in the morning hours, in groups of 20 that were admitted every few minutes. A few hundred more visited the site during the early afternoon slot, though no exact number was communicated. According to some reports, Jews and Muslims clashed in the old city of Jerusalem, but apparently no one was injured.

On the morning of July 29, a group of 14 Temple Mount activists petitioned the Supreme Court for Jews to be allowed to pray at the site. The petitioners targeted Public Security Minister Amir Ohana and the Jerusalem District Police, claiming that the reasons behind the decision preventing Jewish prayer are political and diplomatic, not security related. The court rejected the petition.

Over the years, several serious incidents have taken place near and at the Temple Mount compound, including the 2017 terror attack outside the site and the October 2000 events that followed the visit of then-Likud leader Ariel Sharon.

Hundreds of Jews arrived last night to the Western Wall Plaza for the Tisha B’Av prayer and the reading of the book of Eicha. Last week, the Ministry of Health announced that 10,000 could come to the plaza for the prayer, but with the coronavirus cases increasing, that number was reduced to 1,000, in keeping with social distancing rules. A large crowd arrived — more than the 1,000 authorized — and hundreds of worshipers stormed through the security barriers placed by police to limit their number. Several right-wing politicians arrived for the prayer, including Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and pro-settler Yamina leader Naftali Bennett.

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