Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi criticizes Jewish visitors to Temple Mount

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi and Jordan’s foreign minister criticized the record number of Jews who visited the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av.

In a public message on Tuesday afternoon, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said, according to Israel National News, that on ninth day of Av, the day the Temple was destroyed, “it is imperative to recall that the pilgrimage to the Temple Mount is forbidden by Jewish law. Those Jews who ascend to the Temple Mount desecrate its sanctity.”

By the end of visiting hours that day, some 1,300 Jews had visited the site. On Jerusalem Day, in May, some 900 Jews visited the Temple Mount, setting the previous record.

On Tuesday, at an emergency Executive Committee meeting of the Organization of Islamic Co-operation, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi criticized the large number of visitors and said more unrest at the Temple Mount was likely.

“The number of extremists who stormed Al-Aqsa today stands at a record number, greater than any other since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967,” Safadi told the meeting in Istanbul, which included foreign ministers from 57 countries .

“Many more dangerous crises will erupt as a result of continued Israeli violations if Israel does not uproot the sources of the tension, if the occupation doesn’t end, if East Jerusalem is not independent and not the capital of the sovereign Palestinian State along the 1967 lines,” Safadi also said, The Times of Israel reported.

Tens of thousands also visited the Western Wall throughout the course of the day after thousands gathered at the site on Monday night to read the Book of Lamentations.

The mass influx of visitors comes after nearly two weeks of tensions roiled the site over increased security measures, including metal detectors, following an attack on the Temple Mount that left two Israel Police officers and their three Arab-Israeli gunmen dead.

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