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Waqf official decries ‘dangerous’ Jewish prayers held discreetly on Temple Mount

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25.08.2021

As police stood by, three Jewish men stepped forward, placed their hands out at chest level and began reciting prayers in low tones in the shadow of Jerusalem’s golden Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

Jewish prayers at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary, have long been unthinkable. But they have quietly become the new norm in recent years, flying in the face of longstanding convention, straining a delicate status quo, and raising fears that violent Muslim reactions could trigger a new wave of violence in the Middle East.

The matter has been gaining more and more attention since being reported on last month by Israeli TV.

The hilltop compound is the holiest site for Jews, revered as the location of two ancient temples destroyed in antiquity. Three times a day for 2,000 years, Jews have turned to face it during prayers. It also is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

A Muslim official at the site has denounced the development, saying police officers have been preventing them from taking action against it.

“What is happening is a blatant and dangerous violation of the status quo,” said Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, a top official with the Waqf, the Jordanian-backed Islamic trust that administers the site. “The Israeli police must stop providing protection to extremists.”

Palestinian media outlets, including those of the Hamas terror group, publish almost daily videos of “Jewish settlers storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Many Arab and Muslim leaders don’t acknowledge that the site is holy to Jews and refer to any Jew who enters it as an “extremist.”

Flanked by a detachment of Israeli paramilitary Border Police troopers, a quorum of 10 men entered the shrine on a recent morning and made their way to a secluded area of the eastern side of the compound. They prayed discreetly in hushed tones while a handful of guards from the Waqf watched from a distance.

Kiswani, who is the Waqf’s director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, said Muslim authorities have strongly protested the Jewish prayers, both to........

© The Times of Israel


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