JERUSALEM (JTA) – A record 1,440 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Sunday to commemorate the Fast of Tisha B’Av.
The total was provided by the Yeraeh organization, which facilitates Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. Last year nearly 1,300 visited the site. Some 400 visited in 2016 and 300 in 2015, the Jerusalem Post reported.
At least 15 visitors were arrested, most for bowing down or praying at the site, which is prohibited by police for fear of sparking Muslim riots.
“Today is a dark day in the history of Jerusalem and Palestine,” Palestinian Authority spokesperson Yousif Mahmoud, said in a statement published by Wafa, the official PA news agency.
He said the Jewish visits to the Temple Mount were “a flagrant challenge to the Arab and Islamic nations and the violation of international law.”
Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs, Jumana Ghneimat, also condemned “the provocative incursions of extremists and settlers that took place today into the courtyards of the holy site,” the Palestinian Maan news agency reported, citing Jordan’s official Petra News Agency.
Ghneimat said the visits “violate the sanctity of this holy place, provoke sentiments of worshipers and Muslims all over the world, and constitute a violation of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under international law and international humanitarian laws.
Ghneimat said the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv presented a diplomatic letter of complaint to the Israeli Foreign Ministry Sunday expressing the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of the visits and called for their immediate halt.
The Islamic Wakf based in Jordan oversees the holy site.
Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, a lawmaker from the Likud Party, visited the site early on Sunday morning. He recalled in a tweet in which he included photos of the crowds waiting to visit the Temple Mount that in previous years the site was closed to non-Muslim visitors on the solemn fast day that commemorates the destruction of the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem.