On Tuesday, following the riots on Sunday morning in which Palestinian Arabs attempted to stop Jews from praying on the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, on Tisha B’Av, the national day of mourning for Jews, the Israeli government minister who supervises police responsible for security at the Temple Mount said the status quo should be changed so Jews can be allowed to pray there.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the agreement made after the 1967 Six-Day War wherein non-Muslims are barred from praying on the Temple Mount should be amended so Jews can be free to pray where the ancient Temples of the Jewish people stood and prayed. According to The Times of Israel, Erdan told Israel’s Radio 90, “I think there is in an injustice in the status quo that has existed since ’67. … We need to work to change it so in the future Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount.” He added, “This needs to be achieved by diplomatic agreements and not by force.”
In 1994, a peace treaty Israel made with Jordan allowed Jordan to be custodian of the Temple Mount. Reacting to Erdan’s statements, Jordan sent a letter of protest.
Erdan said that 1,729 Jews entered the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, the most that have yet been recorded. The Times of Israel reported:
Initially, police announced Sunday that non-Muslims would be barred from entering the Temple Mount, where tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers had arrived during the morning … But following an uproar from right-wing ministers and lawmakers, a first round of Jewish visitors was allowed to enter the site. Several dozen visited under close police escort, but Muslim worshipers began throwing chairs and other objects at the group, and the Jewish visitors left the compound shortly thereafter.
For the Palestinians, denying the historicity of the Temple Mount and the existence of the two ancient temples that stood on the Temple Mount is a consistent mission. The Jerusalem Post noted in October 2017, “…Wakf bulldozers illegally ascended the Temple Mount in 1999 to surreptitiously remove thousands of tons of ancient soil to make way for a subterranean mosque …” Archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay noted, “Temple denial started in the 1990s, even though the Islamic Wakf itself in the 1920s and ’30s issued booklets which were given to visitors of the Temple Mount in which they said the existence of the Temples is beyond any doubt … It was accepted and in the Islamic literature through the generations there is a plethora of mentions of Solomon’s Temple and the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem, so it is very strange that they deny it now.”
Mosaic Magazine reported in June 2018 that the Temple Mount Sifting Project, which attempts to recover artifacts from these areas, explained:
[T]he Muslim waqf [has] move[d] the remaining mounds of soil that were originally excavated in 1999 and the early 2000s, along with the material we have been sifting. This material contains a huge number of artifacts from all periods of the history of the Temple Mount, including the First and Second Temple periods. . . . Yet, . . . illegally, the waqf, with dozens of volunteers and workers, carried out excavation work [and] earth and stone clearance on the Temple Mount. . . .