In an unprecedented decision, an Israeli judge ruled that the silent prayer of Jews at Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem was not a "criminal act."
The judge of the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, Bilha Yahalom, said that the silent prayer at the complex cannot be considered a “criminal act,” Israeli Channel 7 reported.
This came in an appeal by Rabbi Aryeh Lippo against a police ban on his visits to 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 complex.
Wednesday’s decision is the first by an Israeli court to support Jewish prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Recently, Israeli settlers began to perform silent prayers during their visits to the site.
The verdict was welcomed by right-wing Israeli lawyer Moshe Polsky.
"We welcome the court's decision which effectively upholds what has actually been happening on the Temple Mount over the past year, and is a de facto statement for Jews who visit the Temple Mount and want to pray," Polsky said.
Usually, Israeli settlers storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex every day in the morning and afternoon through its Al-Mughrabi Gate, southwest of the mosque.
Israeli police began allowing the settler incursions in 2003, despite repeated condemnations from the Islamic Endowment Department.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world's third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognized by the international community.