02 May 2018

Almost twice as many Jewish settlers visited Masjid al-Aqsa out of religious motives during the Jewish Passover period compared to last year.

According to statistics Temple Movement zealots released 2593 Jews visited the site during Passover, while 1373 visited during the holiday last year – a raise of 89%. The current figure is almost four times the number in 2015, when only 650 Jews visited the Masjid.

Another ‘record’ was set when 714 Jews entered the Masjid on the Wednesday – the most in one day.

The activists noted that no arrests were made by police during the holiday.

“This indicates the end of a years-long tough policy that created a fear of a sudden arrest among the visitors,” the activists’ statement said. However, 17 visitors were briefly detained after bowing or loudly praying “Shema Yisrael.

The fall in arrests – four Jews were arrested in 2017 and 40 in 2016 – and the high number of visitors, is seen as an indication of warming ties between the police and Temple Movement activists, and also that the phenomenon of visiting the site is becoming more widespread in Israeli society.

AVIV TATARSKY, a researcher for the left-wing Ir Amim NGO, said the Temple Movement activists are presenting inflated statistics, in order to bring pressure on the authorities to expand religious visitations to the compound.

“Enlarging the number of Jewish visitors on the Mount is a strategic goal of the ‘Temple movements,’ the idea being that as more Jews visit there, the demand to break the status quo will grow,” he said.

“They believe – and they might be right – that such mass demand will give them the power to get the government unilaterally change the status quo. And that such change will start a snowball of greater Jewish presence on Temple Mount that will lead to more changes until the Dome of the Rock would be removed and the Temple would be built,” he continued.

Tatarsky also said that the activists are using the power of organized groups which visit the site. “All of the visitors, who sometimes just wanted to visit the site, are becoming – sometimes without their being aware of it – part of a political campaign,” he said.

These statistics come following March 26’s model Passover sacrifice, which activists carried out in the Jerusalem Archeological Park – Davidson Center, at the southern foot of Masjid al-Aqsa

The police and other authorities, such as the Jerusalem Municipality, approved the event.

In the past years, the activists were not allowed to conduct the ceremony so close to al-Aqsa, and it was carried out in locations such as the Old City, the Mount of Olives and the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood at the western entrance to Jerusalem.

MK Yehudah Glick (Likud), a Temple activist who entered the legislature in 2016, told The Jerusalem Post at the March 26 event that he is glad it was conducted at the foot of the Masjid.

“We started here over a decade and a half ago, with just a handful of people – and now we have hundreds of people coming,” he said.

Assaf Fried, a spokesman for the Temple Mount Activists Movement, said he was thrilled with the event, adding that “when 10,000 will attend, we will do it up on the Temple Mount itself.”

Some criticized authorities for allowing the ceremony – which included slaughtering two sheep – to take place so close to the Masjid, saying it showed they support the activists’ goals.

SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (with editing by MasjidAlAqsa.net)