Jewish tours of the Temple Mount have spiked in the last week, which is the first week of the Pesach vacation in schools countrywide.
About 50 children visited the Mount Thursday, and almost 300 Jews ascended the Mount after ritual purification, including five grooms, a bride and a bar mitzvah boy, according to Temple group Yira'eh. The number is almost double the average number in the weeks that preceded.
The increase in the number of Jewish pilgrims coincided with the beginning of the month of Nisan. Earlier this week, dozens of Jews from Tzfat came to the Mount, headed by the president of the city's hesder yeshiva, Rabbi Benayahu Bruner. The Tzfatites began their ritual immersion and purification at 4:00 AM, in order to make it in time for the hours reserved for Jews on the Mount.
Later in the week, sixth graders from the Talmud Torah school in Hevron visited the Mount. Women for the Temple Mount, the group that organized the children's tour, said it was an unexpected success, with dozens of children and their parents taking part despite the intense Pesach holiday preparations.
The children received special guidance and enjoyed activities geared toward them. Unlike previous visits by children, which were marred by Muslim violence, this time the experience was a positive one.
Elishama Sandman, director of Yira'eh, estimated that the increase in Jewish visits stems from the improvement in the police's attitude toward the Jews on the Mount – despite the numerous restrictions that are still placed on them. The Temple Mount organizations' HQ reported that the Israel Police has decided, as a matter of principle, to allow all Jews who come to the Mount in order to tour it, to do so. Threats by extremist Islamists have not deterred the police, they noted with satisfaction.
Activists expect the total number of Jewish pilgrimages during Pesach to be double that of last year.