Yesterday, Times of London responded to our complaint and corrected an April 27th column by Janice Turner which alleged that, earlier in the month while on vacation, she personally watched Jews enter and pray in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
As we noted in our post about the claim, Jews (and all non-Muslims) are forbidden from entering the mosque. But, just to be sure, we confirmed, in a phone call with the Israeli Police spokesperson, that there have been no such Jewish visits to the Muslim holy site. The revised article now asserts only that Jews entered the larger Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa compound, which they are legally permitted to do, as the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site – a fact Turner obfuscates by suggesting Jewish visitors are interlopers.
However, the column still asserts that these Jews prayed at the compound, “protected by Israeli soldiers”, which strikes us as unlikely given that Jews aren’t permitted to do so, and those even suspected of praying silently whilst on the Temple Mount are often arrested by police.
We were able to find only one recent claim similar to Turner’s, in an April 22nd article at Ma’an News Agency – a propagandistic site that isn’t taken seriously as a professional news outlet. The article doesn’t include a photo of the alleged incident, and relies entirely on the unsubstantiated claim of the Head of the public relations office at the Islamic Endowment Department. (The article purports to have video evidence of the Jewish prayer, but the video only shows Jews peacefully walking at the site.)
We’ve tweeted the journalist to ask if she can give us more details, such as the date it occurred, but we haven’t yet received a reply.
One final note: The journalist described all the Jews allegedly praying at the site as “settlers” – a conclusion that would seem impossible to reach merely by sight.
We’re still looking into the matter, and will update the post if we get more information.