(JNS.org) The number of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount has increased by 92 percent since 2009, according to Israeli police statistics released after a freedom of information request by the Jerusalem-based Temple Institute.
According to the figures, 5,658 Israeli Jews visited the Temple Mount in 2009. Then the number rose steadily year by year to a high of 10,906 in 2014.
Israel gained eastern Jerusalem along with its holy sites from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War. But the Temple Mount is administered by the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trust overseen by Jordan that limits non-Muslim visitation and bans Jewish prayer.
The increase in Jewish visitors has been led by Jewish activist groups such as the Temple Institute that have been calling for greater access to the Temple Mount.
“The official figures indicating that Jewish visits to the Temple Mount have almost doubled in recent years clearly demonstrate that the Jewish people are undergoing a spiritual awakening, and reconnecting—not only to their most holy site, but to their own destiny," said Rabbi Chaim Richman, international director of the Temple Institute.
Tensions over the Temple Mount increased late last year after several Arab leaders spoke out about Jewish visitation, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who called for Muslims to “prevent” Jews from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“We [Muslims] should all remain present at the Noble Sanctuary [Temple Mount],” Abbas said in a speech on October 17, 2014. “We must prevent them [Jews] from entering the Noble Sanctuary in any way. This is our Al-Aksa and our church. They have no right to enter and desecrate them. We must confront them and defend our holy sites,” Abbas said.
These tensions ignited violent Arab protests in and around Jerusalem as well as several terror attacks.