Israel’s police chief ‘happy’ to see unprecedented crowds of Jews visiting Temple Mount

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told INN that the officers are inspired by the tens of thousands of Jews visiting the holy sites, “but within the existing guidelines.”

By World Israel News Staff

Speaking to Israel National News (INN) on Thursday, Israel’s police commissioner said he and his team draw strength and motivation from the tens of thousands of visitors to the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.

“We are happy to see Jerusalem with tens of thousands who come to pray at the Western Wall and the crowds who come to the Temple Mount. This gives us, as the police, the motivation and the strength to invest and put as many police officers as possible in as many places as possible to allow everyone to celebrate the holidays,” Kobi Shabtai told INN.

“There is no policy change,” he said. We allow anyone who wants to go up to the Temple Mount to do so, but within the existing guidelines.”

“What has changed,” he explained, “is that there are more and more Jews who want to fulfill the mitzvah (Torah commandment) of visiting the Mount, and we are doing everything we can to make this possible. We expect everyone to respect the rules and behave accordingly because we want to continue to preserve this without creating unnecessary provocations.”

The number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third- holiest, after Mecca and Medina – has increased significantly over the past several years.

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In fact, Jewish visitors set a new record, TPS reported last month, ahead of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The number of Jewish visits to the holy site since the beginning of the Jewish year surpassed 50,000 for the first time in modern Jewish history.

According to  the “Beyadenu – for the Temple Mount” organization, this number is a 95% increase from last year, when only 25,582 Jews visit the Temple Mount, and a 69% increase from the previous record of 29,420.

An estimated 1,000 Jewish worshippers ascended the Mount on Rosh Hashana alone. Police protected visitors of all faiths from Muslim rioters who were throwing Molotov cocktails, shooting fireworks at security personnel and setting trash cans on fire.

In August, on Tisha b’Av, the Hebrew date of the anniversary of the destruction of both the first and second Holy Temples in Jerusalem, thousands ascended.