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Jews cannot pray on Temple Mount, after judge reverse lower court ruling

Court asserts that Jewish freedom of worship on holy site "is not absolute, and should be superseded by other interests"

View of the Temple Mount and Israeli flags in Jerusalem's Old City from the Mount of Olives, May 3, 2022. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The top Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court decision and ruled against three Jewish teenagers who prayed on the Temple Mount.

This latest news update has a complex backstory which began last week.

The teens were arrested by the Israeli police on May 15 for bowing down and reciting the Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael” at the Temple Mount, in violation of the status quo which dictates that only Muslims pray at the site.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday ruled in favor of the teens who were banned from the site for 15 days. Judge Zion Saharay criticized police for barring the teenagers stating that they enforced “a disproportionate infringement on their [the teens] freedom of movement, which is a constitutional right.” He added that his ruling was not to affect the “status quo” on the Temple Mount.

Sunday’s decision triggered angry opposition from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Jordan, which led Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office to issue a statement that there would be no change to the status quo.

Israel Police, however, appealed the ruling – and Judge Einat Avman-Müller reversed the ruling on Wednesday saying that the right to freedom of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount “is not absolute, and it should be superseded by other interests, among them the safeguarding of public order.”

The teens' legal representative said the judge bowed to pressure from Hamas, which said the initial ruling “plays with fire while crossing all red lines, and is a dangerous escalation for which the leaders of the occupation shall bear the consequences.”

Nati Rom, the teens' attorney, said “a crazy campaign of pressure and threats began… [aimed at] infringing on the independence of the court, and polluting the judicial process,” began right after the teens were exonerated.

The back and forth rulings come as Israel is preparing to celebrate Jerusalem Day – usually marred by Israeli-Palestinian tensions – with its annual “Flag March” and other festivities on Sunday. Jerusalem Day marks Israel’s conquest of the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Hamas has already threatened it will resist “with all our capabilities.” Last year during the “Flag March,” the terror group fired 45 missiles into Israel but no injuries were recorded.

The Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews as the site of the biblical First and Second temples.

While the status quo stipulates that only Muslims can pray there, it is a “widely reported reality,” at least in recent months and years, that Jews are frequently allowed to quietly pray on the Temple Mount.

During an exclusive interview this week, former Knesset Member Rabbi Yehudah Glick told ALL ISRAEL NEWS it is time for the government to stop banning Jews and Christians from praying on the Temple Mount and to make the site a “house of prayer for all nations.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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