Hundreds of Israelis ascended the Temple Mount in commemoration of the Ninth of Av on Sunday morning despite threats by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organizations that they would attack Jerusalem.
The Ninth of Av is a fast day on the Jewish calendar that marks the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, as well as a number of other significant tragedies.
Tens of thousands of Jews also flocked to the Western Wall on Saturday night and Sunday, where they read the Book of Lamentations to mark the occasion.
PIJ threatened Sunday morning that “Khaled Mansour’s blood will ignite the defense system for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, which the settlers will break into today.”
Overnight, the IDF and the Israel Security Agency assassinated Mansour in his home. He served as the head of PIJ’s southern command in Gaza.
Hamas also warned Israel that it would act if Jews ascended the mount.
So far, Hamas has stayed out of Operation Breaking Dawn, while Israel targets PIJ commanders and weaponry.
In public statements, Hamas said it "rejects the Israeli occupation’s permission for extremist Zionists to storm the Al-Aqsa mosque tomorrow. We hold the Israeli occupation fully responsible for the repercussions of this violation committed amid the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip."
Nonetheless, Prime Minister Yair Lapid and the Israel Police were determined to allow the Jewish ascent after a careful assessment despite the threats and Operation Breaking Dawn, which entered its third day on Sunday.
Hundreds of Jews had lined up by 7 a.m to ascend the Temple Mount. Videos showed crowds in the narrow walkway up to the holy site, chanting and praying.
At around 8:30 a.m., Knesset Member Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) arrived and went up as well – despite receiving death threats.
הגעתי הבוקר, ט׳ באב, להר הבית, המקום המקודש ביותר לעם היהודי, יחד עם בני הקטן דוד, כדי לצעוד ולהזכיר שהריבונות בהר היא שלנו. לעולם לא ניכנע, לא לטילים, לא לאיומי המחבלים ולא לאלו מתוכנו שאותי תוקפים. עם ישראל חי. pic.twitter.com/eXGzt34H1M— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) August 7, 2022
He said he was not afraid and felt it necessary to go to the Temple Mount to “remind everyone that we are the owners of the holiest place for the people of Israel,” Ben Gvir said in a statement.
He later told Army Radio that it was “overall a quiet aliyah ('ascent' in Hebrew).”
Yamina Knesset Member Yomtob Kalfon also went to pray on the Temple Mount.
Israel Police said they arrested a handful of Palestinians who tried to make trouble. There was also friction in the Old City, when Israeli marchers waved large Israeli flags in the faces of Arab residents, according to media reports.
Last year in May, Hamas launched thousands of rockets at Israel in response to Jews praying on the Temple Mount and the Jerusalem Day march.
Maayan Hoffman is a veteran American-Israeli journalist and strategic communications consultant. She is the former news editor, head of strategy and senior health analyst for the Jerusalem Post, where she launched the outlet's Health & Wellness, Business & Innovation and Christian World portals.