Israelis visit Aqsa compound in record numbers for Jewish holiday
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki, who was speaking at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, condemned the "annual massive assault against al-Aqsa on the occasion of the anniversary of the so-called destruction of the temple."
Israel's Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef also released a statement saying Jews who visited the site were "desecrating its holiness" and violating Jewish custom, which prohibits Jews visiting and praying at the site.
On Monday night, thousands of Jews attended prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to observe the start of the Tisha B'av fasting day, which commemorates the destruction of two Jewish temples believed to have been located at the site.
Last week, dozens of prominent far-right national-religious rabbis called on Jews to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque compound to "strengthen our hold on this holy place," The Jerusalem Post reported.
The Yeraeh organization, a far-right Israeli group that advocates the destruction of the al-Asqa Mosque and the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple, says more than 17,000 Jews have visited the compound since last October.
The numbers, which are not verified by Israeli authorities, would mark a 15 percent increase over the previous year.