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Temple Mount closed to Jewish visitors on Tisha b’Av

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jerusalem Police closed the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors a day after Arabs protested such visits.

The closure on Tuesday coincided with the fast of Tisha b’Av, a day of Jewish mourning for the destruction of the two Jewish Temples that were located on the site.

Police reportedly closed the site to Jewish and Christian visitors to prevent clashes with Arabs who are observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Muslims are being allowed to enter the Temple Mount compound, however, to pray at the Dome of the Rock mosque.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud Party and Knesset lawmaker Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of Jewish Home arrived at the Temple Mount site on Tuesday morning but were prevented from ascending.  Hundreds of other Jews also waited on Tuesday morning to enter the site but were turned away.

Thousands of Jews prayed at the Western Wall below the Temple Mount in observance of the Tisha b’Av fast.

On Monday, Muslim worshipers physically blocked Jews from ascending the Temple Mount in honor of Tisha b’Av. Jews were removed from the site due to police fears of an Arab riot.

Jews who visit the Temple Mount are not allowed to pray or participate in Jewish rituals by orders of the Muslim Wakf, which administers the site. The order is backed by the Jerusalem Police out of security concerns.

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