MK Danny Danon (Likud) toured the Temple Mount Tuesday in a visit timed for Tisha B'Av, 1940 years after the sacking of the Second Jewish Temple. He bemoaned the ongoing discrimination against Jews' freedom of worship.
"It is unacceptable that Muslims can ascend the Mount 24 hours a day, while Jews' freedom of worship is limited,” he said, after touring the Mount with a police escort, and under the watchful eyes of Muslim Wakf representatives
"It was very exciting to visit the Temple Mount, on Tisha B'Av, the day of mourning for the Temple Mount. I received the impression that freedom of worship is fully implemented toward the Muslims,” Danon said. “They can enter the Mount 24 hours a day, from nine gates. Whereas the Jews can only enter from one gate, under severe restrictions.”
"Religious Jews, who wear kippahs, can only ascend the Mount in groups of fifteen people, with police escort,” he noted, “and they are forbidden from praying on the Mount. Secular [Jews] or tourists, on the other hand, can ascend freely.”
Danon announced that he would be asking the Minister for Public Security, Yitzchak Aharonovich, to change the existing instructions regarding the ascent of Jews onto the Mount. He added that “the heart ached” at seeing the results of the illegal digging carried out by the Muslim Wakf in the south-eastern part of the Mount.
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel of the Temple Mount Institute spoke to disciples on the mount (in Hebrew, in embedded video) and said that there was something deeply wrong with the custom of grieving for Temple when it is already time to rebuild it.
The Temple Mount was liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, a secular Jew, said felt no religious connection to the Mount and referred to the compound as "a Vatican." The Israeli government handed the keys to the Mount back to the Muslim Wakf shortly after the war.
At the time, most religious Jews were also uncertain in their feelings toward the Mount, and national emotion was focused on the Kotel, an external wall of the Second Temple era which the Jews had been praying at for many centuries after the Roman destruction of that glorious structure.
To this day, some rabbis see the Mount as off-limits to Jews because of matters of ritual impurity, and uncertainty regarding the original location of the Temple. In recent years, however, there appears to be a swelling of feeling in Jewish hearts toward the Temple Mount and a growing confidence that the Mount should be visited by Jews.