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Israel court allows settlers “silent prayer” at al-Aqsa mosque compound

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- In an unprecedented decision, an Israeli judge ruled on Wednesday that silent prayer by Israeli settlers at al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem was not a “criminal act”, according to Israel’s Channel 7 news.

Justice Bilha Yahalom of Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court said Israeli settlers’ prayer at the holy site could not be considered a “criminal act” if it remained silent, as it would not violate police instructions.

This came in an appeal by Rabbi Aryeh Lippo against a police ban on his visits to the flashpoint site.

The judge also ordered the police to shorten the ban and allow the rabbi to return to his prayer there.

“His daily arrival at the Temple Mount indicates that this is a matter of principle and substance for him,” the judge said, using the Hebrew name of Al-Aqsa mosque.

Wednesday’s ruling was the first by an Israeli court to support Israeli settlers’ prayer at the holy site.

While Israeli settlers are allowed access to al-Aqsa compound, they are not allowed to pray there.

Israeli occupation authorities allow settler incursions to the mosque since 2003 under the forces protection, despite repeated objections and warnings by the Palestinian religious authorities as the visits provoke worshippers of the mosque.

Israeli forces always facilitate and protect the settlers breaking into the holy site while preventing Palestinian worshipers from entering it, assaulting and detaining them.

The Al-Aqsa mosque is one of the holiest sites in Islam. It was also Islam’s first Qibla, the direction towards which Muslims must turn to pray, before it was changed to Mecca.

Jews refer to the area as the Temple Mount, claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times. The complex also includes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the most sacred Christian sites in the world.

Jordan, which has managed the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf – or endowment – since 1948, condemned the Court’s decision, stressing the Waqf held the sole legal authority to administer the affairs of al-Aqsa.

“The decision is a serious violation of the historical and legal status of al-Aqsa Mosque,” Jordan’s foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.