Judaism regards the Temple Mount as the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest, according to them it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first man, Adam. According to Jewish tradition and scripture, the first temple was built by Solomon the son of David in 957 BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. Jewish tradition maintains it is here the Third and final Temple will also be built. The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer.
Among Sunni Muslims, the Mount is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637 CE, Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest extant Islamic structures in the world, after the Kaabah. The Al-Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Bible mandates the Holy Temple be rebuilt.
In light of the dual claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Since the Crusades, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site as a Waqf, without interruption. As part of the Old City, controlled by Israel since 1967, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over the site, which remains a major focal point of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslim visitors.
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