13 August 2020

As nearly 1000 Jews made provocative incursions to Masjid al-Aqsa at the end of July to mark the day of Tisha B’Av, reports from the Masjid and testimony of Temple Movement leaders have painted a grave picture on the threats aimed at Islam’s third holiest site.

On Tisha B’av, which fell on Thursday July 30, (this year coinciding with the Day of Arafah) Jews mark the day they say the “Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed and a number of other calamities occurred by fasting for 25 hours and abiding by other mourning practices, including sitting on the floor or low chairs, not wearing leather shoes and reciting the Book of Lamentations (Megillat Eicha), in which the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile.”

As per statements reported from Temple Movement leaders, such commemorations are also seen as opportunities to alter the historic status quo of Masjid al-Aqsa as a Muslim place of worship.

“Progress on the Temple Mount occurs daily, but there are special days from which you can progress further, days when partitions fall and rules are broken. Of course, the reference is to Jerusalem Day and Tisha Be’av,” wrote Asaf Fried, a spokesman for the Temple Mount organizations, on Facebook.

Fried stressed that the opening of Masjid al-Aqsa to Jews during the most important day of the Muslim calendar was “precedent-setting and historic.””The next sentence I say carefully but emphatically: this year too, on Tisha B’av, we can progress significantly on the Temple Mount! I won’t go into more detail,” wrote Fried. “Everything is dependent on the number of pilgrims.”

Whilst the occasion of Tisha B’av is traditionally a day of Jewish fasting, Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer, Chief Rabbi of Mitzpe Yericho and dean of the Hara’ayon Hayehudi (the Jewish idea) yeshiva (Torah academy) in Jerusalem, released a ruling before the commemoration instructing that breaking into Masjid al-Aqsa was so important that a Jewish person who did so could even break the fast by drinking water in order to achieve the purpose.

“My ruling does not diminish the importance of the day,” Rabbi Kroizer said to Breaking Israel News. “Even more so the opposite. Ascending the Temple Mount speaks to the essence of the day which is not just crying for what was lost. The importance of the day is also what we are looking forward to. The day is supposed to wake us up to the need for the Temple. Ascending to the Temple Mount is a powerful reminder of what we lost, what we lack, and what we still need to do.”

“Implicit in the mourning is that in the future, the day will become a day of feasting and joy,” Rabbi Kroizer said.

Elishama Sandman, head of the Yera’eh Temple Mount advocacy group, noted that last year on Tisha B’Av, 1729 Jews “ascended to the Temple Mount.”

“This is an important day,” Sandman said. “We need to remember the destruction of the Temples. We need to cry and fast. But when the day of mourning is over, we need to get up and begin building.”

Recent reports have indicated that Jewish visitors to Masjid al-Aqsa have also begun to eat and drink inside Masjid al-Aqsa as well as broadcast Torah services online from the Masjid precincts all with an intent to erode the status quo.

“It is undeniable that recently we have seen many positive and necessary developments on the Temple Mount,” Rabbi Mordechai Makover, the former director of the Temple Institute and head of the Mikdash (Temple) Educational Center said. “In order to perform the Temple service, Jews must eat and drink on the Temple Mount. It has deep spiritual significance connected to bringing sustenance and peace to the world.”

The Israeli High Court claimed in 2015 that Jews have equal rights to pray at Masjid al-Aqsa in a case that decided in favor of Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a former member of Knesset and leading Temple Movement figure, stating that it was the duty of the police to protect the right of Jews to pray at Masjid al-Aqsa.

The Jerusalem Post revealed in December that Jewish visitors to the site had started praying undisturbed by the Occupation police forces.

According to Michael Miller, a member of the “Students for the Temple Mount” movement, Jews are now permitted to pray quietly in a quorum in areas that are out of sight from the Muslims. This is typically occurring in the Eastern region of Masjid al-Aqsa, which the Temple activists are aspiring to turn into a synagogue, as part of a wider plan for incremental takeover of Masjid al-Aqsa.

“Due to our stubbornness and making noise surrounding the “forbidden” water faucets on the Temple Mount, IT’S NOW 100% PERMITTED TO DRINK FROM THEM!” Miller wrote on Facebook.

“Little by little we are gaining sovereignty. Baby steps, but the situation can be a heck of a lot better!”

On July 30, footage from al-Aqsa showed members of one of the Temple groups bowing on the ground, saying aloud the Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael”. Footage also showed a right-wing activist waving an Israeli flag for several seconds.

Following the latest incidents, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry called on Israel to “respect the sanctity” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and end “all provocations and violations there.”

According to Jordan’s Petra News Agency, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Deifallah al-Fayez conveyed the message of protest through diplomatic channels, condemning the Israeli violations by having allowed Jews “to storm the mosque” on the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av.

Al-Fayez said that al-Aqsa is a place of worship for Muslims only and called on the international community to end the Israeli violations.