A decision by a local Israeli court in favor of a Jewish man who prayed quietly at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site angered Muslim officials, who on Thursday condemned it as a violation of the delicate situation governing the complex. Of.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque complex is the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the site of ancient Jewish temples. It is the emotional epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions there helped ignite the 11-day Gaza War in May. Under the informal understanding, Jews are not allowed to pray there.
A magisterial court ruling in Jerusalem concerned a Jewish man, who was banned from the site for 15 days, was caught by Israeli police praying there quietly. The court lifted the ban several days ago, ruling that the man, “like many others, prays on a daily basis on the temple mount.”
Noting that he did so quietly and privately, the ruling said, “This activity in itself is not sufficient to violate the instructions of the police.”
Magistrate courts make up the lowest level of Israel’s judiciary and hear cases involving relatively minor crimes.
Under a long but informal arrangement known as the status quo, Jews are allowed to visit the site but not pray there. The settlement has broken down in recent years as large groups of Jews, including staunchly religious nationalists, regularly visit the site to pray. The Israeli government says it is committed to maintaining the status quo.
Palestinians and neighboring Jordan, which serves as the custodian of the holy site, fear that Israel may eventually plan to take over the complex or split it, as it did in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. with the holy site.
The Islamic Endowment, which maintains al-Aqsa, called the decision a “major violation” of the sanctity of the complex and a “clear provocation” to Muslims around the world.
Thousands of Palestinians regularly attend Friday prayers at the mosque, and this is sometimes followed by protests and clashes with Israeli police. The provocative visit of a right-wing Israeli politician in 2000 helped ignite the Second Palestinian Intifada, or insurgency.
In the 1967 war Israel occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City and holy sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims, in a move not recognized by most of the international community. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. The city’s situation has been one of the most divisive issues in decades of failed peace efforts.