A group of Jewish youths who are at the center of a recent controversial court decision regarding Jewish prayer on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount defend their actions in a TV interview, saying they only “wanted to fulfill their rights.”
Jerusalem District Court Judge Zion Saharay ruled yesterday in favor of the three teenagers, who appealed a decision by the Israel Police to bar them from visiting the flashpoint holy site for a period of time after they were detained for reciting a prayer on the compound.
By praying at the site, the teenagers violated a longstanding, but informal arrangement known as the status quo, which dictates that Jews are allowed to visit the site but not pray there. The Temple Mount is the holiest site for Jews and the compound’s Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third-holiest for Muslims.
“I feel proud that now there’s a judge that opened the public’s eyes to the fact that there is no rule against Jewish prayer at their holiest site,” one of the teenagers tells Channel 13 news.
The group says that the area where they prayed was “off in the corner” of the compound, adding that “no Arabs saw us, so it didn’t cause any trouble.”
Israeli officials were quick to release statements clarifying that the judge’s verdict does not change the status quo on the mount amid condemnations by the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and warning by Hamas of escalation.