23 November 2021

Discreet Jewish prayer services Masjid al-Aqsa are continuing despite comments by Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev that non-Muslim prayer is not permitted, the Zionist Jerusalem Post reported in October.

On October 17, Bar Lev held a meeting with senior police officials and issued a statement to the press afterward acknowledging the so-called status quo at Masjid al-Aqsa since 1967 in which non-Muslim prayer has been illegal.

“In accordance with this situation, the ‘Temple Mount’ [Masjid al-Aqsa] will be open for visitation by non-Muslims but not for prayer,” continued the statement, with Bar Lev himself saying, “It is important to be strict over the continuation of the customary situation as the government of Israel established in 1967.”

Asaf Fried, a spokesman for the Committee of Temple Organizations, said that the situation at the site for Jewish visitation and prayer was unchanged since Bar Lev’s comments.

“The ‘ Temple Mount’ [Masjid al-Aqsa] is calm and quiet, every Jew who comes up can pray quietly, and this continues on the ‘Temple Mount’ [Masjid al-Aqsa] all the time,” said Fried.

A spokesman for Bar Lev said the minister’s comments did not include “quiet prayer” since the police could not enforce a ban on prayer that is said “in someone’s heart.”

For many years since the Al-Aqsa and the Old City of Jerusalem were illegally occupied by Israel in the Six Day War, Israeli government policy has been to overtly prevent Jewish prayer out of a concern that allowing it would spark severe violence by Palestinians and create tensions with neighboring Arab countries. At the same time, it has continued Judaising Al-Quds, and making incremental overtures to Temple movements.

For several years, the Occupation police have allowed Jewish visitors to Masjid al-Aqsa to pray quietly and discreetly in a minyan (quorum) of 10 men and more, in an unobtrusive area of the site.Prayer shawls and tefillin are not permitted in such services, however, nor is prostration or bowing of any kind.

A recent ruling earlier this month by the Occupation’s Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, which seemingly gave legal standing to such prayer by annulling a police decision to ban an individual from the site for praying, was hotly protested by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, as well as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

The ruling was subsequently overturned partially by the Jerusalem District Court.

ADAPTED from: Jeruaslem Post