The number of Jewish visitors to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount saw a significant boost over the past year, despite ongoing efforts to discourage non-Muslims from ascending the holy plateau and a firm ban on all Jewish and Christian prayer.
Last month, the Temple Institute made a “freedom of information” request to the Israel Police regarding the Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. The group was pleased to learn that no fewer than 10,906 Israeli and foreign Jews had come to Judaism’s holiest site in 2014.
By comparison, 8,528 Jews visited the Temple Mount in 2013, and there were just 5,658 Jewish visitors in 2009.
For those who advocate full freedom of religion at the Temple Mount, those numbers were encouraging, especially given that Jews and Christians are only permitted to visit the holy site three days out of every week, and even then only at very restricted hours.
The issue of the Temple Mount has increasingly been the focus of tense debate within Israel’s Knesset in recent years. Last February, the Knesset held its first ever discussion on extending fully Israeli sovereignty over the site, which is presently managed by an Islamic Trust (Waqf).
It is at the Waqf’s request (demand?) that Jews and Christians are not allowed to utter even silent prayers while visiting the Temple Mount, and outbreaks of Muslim violence over any perceived violation has ensured that Israeli authorities do their best to honor the Muslims’ conditions.
Many Israeli lawmakers are increasingly frustrated by this situation, which they deem to be a total surrender to the dictates and threats of radical Islam. They want Israel to become the official overseer of the Temple Mount.