A reported record attendance of more than 1,000 Jewish visitors flocked to Temple Mount today to mark the morning of Tisha B’Av.
A campaign conducted over recent days encouraged Jews to attend the site following tensions there over the past two weeks, and the number of visitors surpasses the previous record of 995 who attended on this year's Jerusalem Day.
Jewish visitors were reportedly required to leave their identity cards with police before passing through metal detectors at the Mughrabi Gate, which is the only gate to the compound through which non-Muslims may enter.
According to Yeraeh, an organisation that promotes Jewish visitation and prayer rights at Temple Mount, at least 1,046 Jews visited the site between 7.30am and 11am, and between 1.30pm and 2.30pm. Last year 400 Jews visited Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av.
Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, is a fast day, commonly known as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar.
It commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem; the first by the Babylonians, in around 587 BCE, and the second by the Romans in 70 CE. The fast has also become associated with other tragedies from Jewish history.
At least six Jewish visitors were removed from Temple Mount this morning for not abiding by the site’s regulations. They were reportedly attempting to pray or bow down in contravention of rules stating that any non-Muslim prayer is strictly forbidden by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, which administers the site.
The record for the number of Jewish visitors to Temple Mount over a Hebrew calendar year has also been broken, with six weeks of the year still left. More than 18,000 Jews have already attended with organised tour groups this year, up from last year's record of 14,908.