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Jewish visits to Temple Mount increase by 92% since 2009

reposted from The Jerusalem Post
01.28.2015 | 8 Shevat, 5775

by Jeremy Sharon

The trend is driven by several activist groups who encourage Jewish Israelis and tourists to visit the Temple Mount, saying they wish to re-assert the Jewish connection to the site.

Recently released police statistics show that Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, have increased by 92 percent since 2009.

The trend is driven by several activist groups who encourage Jewish Israelis and tourists to visit the Temple Mount, saying they wish to re-assert the Jewish connection to the site, a connection which they feel has waned due to tight restrictions on non-Muslim visitation and a total ban on non-Muslim prayer.

According to the new figures, 5,658 Israeli Jews ascended the Temple Mount in 2009, 5,792 visited in 2010, 8,247 in 2011 and 7,724 in 2012. Numbers increased again in 2013, with 8,528 and then reached 10,906 in 2014.

The increase in Jewish visitors in 2014 over the 2013 numbers is also significant, with almost 28 percent more Jewish Israelis visiting in the last calendar year.

It has been the mainstream rabbinic opinion for many years to ban Jews from the site since it is currently impossible to perform a required ritual to ascend to the Temple Mount.

Several senior rabbinic figures in the national-religious community have in recent years permitted visitation however, arguing that the prohibited areas can be avoided.

The increasing number of visitors, which have included high profile politicians such as outgoing Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, has led to demands for increased access and a reduction in the restrictions imposed on Jews and other non-Muslims at the site.

These demands have even reached the Knesset with Likud MK Miri Regev proposing a bill that would allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount. Deputy Minister for Religious Services Eli Ben-Dahan has also advocated for changing the status quo.

The site is currently administered by the Jordanian government and an Islamic trust which bans non-Muslim prayer and restricts non-Muslim visitation to strict time periods.

The increased Jewish visitation and demands for prayer rights have led to vehement diplomatic objections by the Jordanian government to any change in the status quo, and the demands of Jewish activists have been used by Palestinian religious officials and politicians to incite against Israel.

On October 17, 2014, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said that there was a “fierce onslaught on Al-Aksa Mosque, Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre Church,” and said that Fatah should spearhead the effort to stop “settlers” from entering the Temple Mount. “We should all remain present at the Noble Sanctuary [Temple Mount],” he added. “We must prevent them from entering the Noble Sanctuary in any way. This is our Al-Aksa and our church. They have no right to enter and desecrate them. We must confront them and defend our holy sites,” Abbas said.

On October 29, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a well known and prominent activist for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, was shot and severely wounded in an assassination attempt, after which a spate of deadly Palestinian terror attacks soon followed.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, the international director of the Temple Institute which promotes Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount, commented on the new figures and the rise in the number of Jews visiting the site.

“The official figures indicating that Jewish visits to the Temple Mount have almost doubled in recent years, clearly demonstrate that the Jewish people are undergoing a spiritual awakening, and reconnecting -- not only to their most holy site, but to their own destiny,” the rabbi said.

“Many of our generation's leading rabbinical authorities have determined that not only are halachically-sensitive Jewish visits to the Temple permissible -- such visits are actually a mitzva, in fulfilment of Jewish law. The time has come for all rabbis to deal with this important issue in the same earnest manner. As more Jews visit the site, the ability for our people to peacefully pray there increases exponentially.”



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