Israel decided to close the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors on Jerusalem Day amid fears that it could lead to tensions, as this year it will coincide with the final days of Muslim religious fasting — Ramadan. This is the first time in the last 30 years that authorities make such a move. The site will remain closed for the duration of the last 10 days of Ramadan.
"Every year, the Temple Mount is closed to visits during the final days of the month of Ramadan for reasons of public safety and security and public order", police said.
The Temple Mount is expected to be closed on Jerusalem Day for the next two years if the practice persists, as in both 2020 and 2021 the holiday will coincide with the final days of Ramadan.
The decision to close the holy site on a day commemorating the unification of Jerusalem as part of Israel, following the capture of the eastern part of the city during the Six-Day War, has stirred discontent among various Jewish groups, Haaretz reported. The groups Students for the Temple Mount and Temple Mount Heritage Fund have vowed to fight for the right of Jews to visit the holy site whenever they want.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, but is also of great importance for Muslims. Israel secured control over the site along with East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967. Jerusalem Day, which is devoted to Israel's victory, often sees major parades throughout the city, including the Muslim Quarter; the latter results in certain limitations being imposed on the movement of Arab residents and the closure of certain streets in the quarter on the holiday.