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Israeli court approves quiet Jewish prayer at Temple Mount compound

In a landmark ruling, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court allowed Rabbi Aryeh Lippo to pray silently at the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Pious Jews join prayers from a terrace overlooking the spot where Jewish priests covered with black and white Talit prayer shawls perform the Cohanim prayer at the Western Wall, with the Dome of the Rock shrine seen in the background, during the Passover holiday, Old City of Jerusalem, April 22, 2019.

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court, the lowest level of the Israeli judiciary, ruled Oct. 6 in favor of Rabbi Aryeh Lippo, allowing him to pray silently at the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Lippo had petitioned against Jerusalem’s police, who had banned his visits to the site for 15 days. The ban decision came after a police officer ordered him to stop praying there during a visit Sept. 29, just after the Jewish Sukkoth festival. Jerusalem police has appealed the ruling. It maintains that Lippo had engaged in improper conduct in a public sphere.

The Jerusalem Magistrate Court ordered the Jerusalem police to shorten the ban and allow Lippo to return to his quiet prayer there. Judge Bilha Yahalom ruled that Lippo’s behavior did not violate the law or police instructions on the site, as he was praying by himself, without a crowd and quietly, in a way that was not external or visible. She wrote in her ruling, "The appellant stood in the corner with a friend or two, there was no crowd around him, his prayer was quiet, whispered. I have not found that the religious acts carried out by the appellant were externalized and visible." Yahalom noted that such prayer did "not violate police instructions." She continued that Lippo’s daily arrival at the Temple Mount indicates that this was a matter of principle and substance for him.

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