Tel Aviv– Israel police, special forces, and border police are being deployed in large numbers in al-Quds to protect Israelis at the Western Wall for the fast of “Tisha B’Av”.
Tisha B’Av events began Monday night and will continue until Tuesday. 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.
According to Jewish history books, the first temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. Babylon Jews built the temple 70 years later, only to be destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans.
Since then, religious Jews commemorate the occasion by refraining from eating and drinking for a 25 hour period of mourning. They also refrain from wearing leather shoes, bathing, greeting one another on the eve of the fast, or attending Torah study because it gladdens the heart.
To mark the occasion, thousands of Israelis arrive at the Western Wall at the foot of the Temple Mount compound, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, near the gates of al-Aqsa Mosque.
Since the Israeli occupation of Quds in 1967, some Jewish far-right groups try to pray inside the Aqsa because they believe the mosque was built on the temple’s ruins.
Calls for destroying the mosque to rebuild the temple are increasing especially that several far-right politicians are using this issue to impose a segregation inside the mosque between Jews and Muslims.
Most Jewish religious leaders forbid prayers inside the mosque given that it was built over the ruins of the temple, in their belief, and thus whoever walks inside is stepping on the temple itself. Yet, certain religious officials are mixing politics with religion and thus allow prayers inside.
This issue became a reason for clashes between Jews who enter under the protection of police and Muslims who refuse Jewish allegations.
In addition, several extremist Jews use the occasion to provoke Palestinians and create clashes between both parties. Police threatened of using force with anyone trying to violate the public order.
Islamic Waqif warned against the repetition of recent Aqsa incidents if settlers entered the mosque, as they usually do every year, under the protection of the police.