By Erin Viner
Shavuot, which the Orthodox rabbinic tradition considers as the date marking the revelation of the Torah to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai, is one of the three annual pilgrimage festival when Jews are called upon to visit the Temple in Jerusalem. The worshippers perform the Birkat HaKohanim Priestly Blessing, from the Biblical passage, Numbers 6:24-26: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
The area is called Temple Mount by Israel, and considered by the Jewish People as the holiest site in the world, also revered to Christians. The compound is Islam’s third most sacred site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia; and the Al-Aqsa Mosque area is the most sensitive site in the generations-old conflict with Israel.
Even though Israel regards the entirety of of Jerusalem as its eternal capital and the center of the Jewish faith, it has observed a “status quo” arrangement that existed prior to its reunification of Jerusalem following the 1967 Six Day War, that bars Jewish prayer at the compound as not to ‘inflame Muslim anger.’ Religious worship on the al-Aqsa compound is restricted to Muslims, while Jews pray at the Western Wall nearby.
Many of the Palestinian demonstrators sought to evade Israeli security forces by fleeing inside the al-Aqsa Mosque, which was built atop the ruins of both Biblical temples. After barricading themselves inside, they shouted “Allahu Akbar,” hurled rocks and even furniture out of windows in the mosque at police.
The Jewish visits continued under heavy police protection.
“While there is complete freedom of worship for Muslims on the Temple Mount,” the Israel Police wrote on Twitter, ” rioters from within the Al-Aqsa Mosque once again desecrated its sanctity.”