Appeals Court Upholds Ban on Jewish Prayer at Al Aqsa Compound

View of the entrance to the District Court in Jerusalem (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) – An Israeli appeals court overruled a magistrate who had stirred Palestinian anger by questioning the legality of barring Jewish prayer at the Al Aqsa mosque compound on Har Habyis, as the United States warned its citizens over travel in the vicinity.

Three Jewish youths who received a restraining order after praying at the site successfully challenged the police decision at Yerushalayim Magistrates Court, which ruled on Sunday that their actions had not constituted a breach of the peace.

That prompted protests and threats from the Palestinians and a pledge from Israel that the status quo would be preserved.

The state filed a counter-appeal on Wednesday with Yerushalayim District Court, which found in their favor after nightfall.

“The special sensitivity of the Temple Mount cannot be overstated,” Judge Einat Avman-Moller said in her ruling.

A right to freedom of Jewish worship there “is not absolute, and should be superseded by other interests, among them the safeguarding of public order,” she said.

Senior poskim have repeatedly said that halachah forbids Jews to enter the site.

In a statement to Reuters, Nati Rom, a lawyer for the defendants, said: “It is strange and regrettable that, in the 21st century, in a Jewish and democratic country, the basic human rights of Jews would be so harmed.”

The annual flag march, scheduled for Sunday, marks the Old City’s capture by Israel in a 1967 war. The event is resented by Palestinians who want the Old City for a hoped-for future state.

The U.S. Embassy in Yerushalayim urged vigilance on Wednesday, adding an advisory that U.S. government employees and their families “cannot enter the Old City at any time on Sunday.”

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