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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Thursday, August 24, 2017

More than 1300 Jews braved a searing heat wave to visit the Temple Mount on Tisha B’av, while thousands more sat on the floor – a traditional Jewish sign of mourning – at the Western Wall Plaza to commemorate the destruction of ancient Jerusalem by the Roman Empire in the year 70 CE.

One person, a 15-year-old boy, was lightly wounded when a Muslim worshipper threw a chair at him. He was given first aid by security officials and did not require further treatment. The man was not arrested.

In addition, six people were ejected for violating the rules. Police arrested three Jews shortly after they left the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Tuesday, after the three had allegedly clashed with a group of Arabs who they claim attacked them near the exit of the holy site.

During the arrest, officers used stun-guns to neutralize one of the three Jews being taken into custody.

As footage of the incident shows, after the three had already been pulled to the ground, an arresting officer used a stun-gun to neutralize one of the arrestees.

The Honenu legal-help organization has provided an attorney to assist the arrestees during police questioning.

A Honenu spokesperson, condemned the behavior of the officers involved in the incident, and demanded the officer who used his stun-gun be removed from active duty.

“On Tisha B’Av, the day that Israel mourns the destruction [of the Temple], Jewish rights are being abused in the streets of Jerusalem. An officer tased an arrestee who was lying on the ground for absolutely no reason. We demand the officer be removed immediately, and we intend to use every possible means [to see the officer removed].”

Throughout the morning, hundreds of people stood in line adjacent to the Mughrabi Gate, the only entrance to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims, to visit the site. Entering the ramp leading to the Mount, Jewish visitors passed through metal detectors and thorough security checks to ensure no forbidden items, including prayer books, religious items and Israeli flags, made it up to the Mount. On the ramp leading up to the gate, officers briefed visitors on visitation rules, including prohibitions on praying and bowing down.

Jewish visitors were also required to leave identification at the checkpoint.

To accommodate the large number of Jewish visitors, police allowed large groups to enter the site, a practice they usually frowned upon, and eventually limited the visitors’ presence on the Mount to an abbreviated route.

The event, the largest visit by Jews to the Temple Mount in years, comes on the heels of weeks of tension surrounding the holy site. On July 14, three Israeli-Arabs exited the Mount at Lions Gate and killed two policemen, leading Israel to place metal detectors and security cameras at the site.

But Jordanian-funded Islamic officials (Waqf) charged with overseeing the site rejected the security measures as a breach of the status quo and called on Muslims to boycott the Islamic shrines until the metal detectors and cameras were removed. After a 12-day standoff Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu folded and the security measures were removed.

In a related development, INN reported that Wired.com published a leaked recording of a discussion between White House Middle East advisor Jared Kushner and Congressional interns. Kushner referred to the "logical" step of placing metal detectors after an attack and the "incitement" which came in its wake from Arab sources

Kushner referred to the issue of the metal detectors placed on Temple Mount in the aftermath of the attack there and said that: "I don't know if everyone is familiar, but there were two people—two Israeli guards killed at the Temple Mount (and that's the first time in many, many, many years that that happened, so Israelis started putting up metal detectors on the Temple Mount, which is not an irrational thing to do. You know when you have—police officers were just killed, and weapons that were used to find the weapons, to check them—so then what happens is they start inciting it. They say look, you know, this is a change to the status quo."

Kushner added that mediation had achieved a solution to the crisis: "We were able to calm it down by having a lot of really great dialogue between Jordan and the Palestinian authority and the Israelis."

Meanwhile on Tuesday afternoon, INN reported that thousands of Jews arrived at the Western Wall plaza ahead of the end of the Tisha B'Av fast tonight.

The fast, which takes place annually on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, commemorates the destruction of the two Holy Temples by the Babylonian and Roman empires in 586 BCE and 70 CE, respectively. Religious Jews refrain from eating and drinking for a 25 hour period of mourning. They also refrain from wearing leather shoes and bathing and do not sit on anything higher than a 1-foot high stool until midday. They do not greet one another on the eve of the fast and there is no Torah study because it gladdens the heart.

Security forces have prepared for the increase in visitors to the Western Wall over the last 24 hours.

Several individuals were detained by police on suspicion of violating rules prohibiting Jews from praying or bringing religious items on their holiest site. One detainee was shot with a stun-gun after he was already pulled to the ground.

Also on Tuesday, INN reported that Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi slammed the Jews who visited the Temple Mount.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Tuesday, Safadi said: “the number of extremists who stormed Al-Aqsa today stands at a record number that has not been recorded since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967.”

He warned that the visit of Jews to the holiest site in Judaism could cause violence and riots. "The crisis is over but further and more dangerous crises will break out as a result of Israel’s continued provocation, if Israel will not uproot the source of the tension, if the occupation will not end and if East Jerusalem will not become the capital of an independent Palestine.”

In addition, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef published a special announcement on Tuesday afternoon against the mass Jewish pilgrimage to the Temple Mount that took place on Tisha B'Av.

"Today, on the 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," said Rabbi Yosef.

On the other hand, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Dov Kalmanovich asked the police today to leave the Temple Mount open for Jews for another hour.

In his letter to the Jerusalem police, Kalmanovitch wrote, "Jews from all over the country whose rabbis permit them have come to visit the Temple Mount on the day that most symbolizes the loss of the holiest place for Jews.

"It is inconceivable that people who fast and in the heat of the morning wait to enter the Temple Mount and eventually return to their homes without being allowed to enter. I call upon the Israel Police to show compassion and tolerance today on Tisha B'Av and to extend the visit time to the Jews for an additional hour."

In terms of health related matters pertaining to the fasting on Tisha B’Av and the oppressive heat wave that is taking place in Israel, it was reported that Magen David Adom announced that its paramedics had treated 168 people during the Tisha B'Av fast day.

96 cases involved weakness, dizziness and confusion, 66 people fainted, and six cases involved severe dehydration.

The weather was hot and muggy during the fast. Temperatures reached 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in Kiryat Shmona, 33 (91.4) degrees in Tzfat, 32 (89.6) degrees in Haifa and Tel Aviv, 33 (91.4) degrees in Jerusalem, and 36 (96.8) degrees in Be'er Sheva.

As in previous years, the MDA issued guidelines to the fasting public on how to prepare and conduct the fast to prevent any medical incidents. MDA units, including ambulances and motorbikes, were deployed to insure a speedy response in the event of a medical emergency at a place where many people who fasted gathered, such as the Western Wall.

By: Andrew Friedman
(TPS & INN)