Undercover Israeli Jews Disguised as Muslims Thwart Al-Aqsa Prayer Ban

Jewish activists dress up as Muslims to circumvent the prayer ban in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Sunni Islam's third holiest site. Swapping their Jewish clothes for a thobe, also called a dishdasha or jalabiya, these activists defy the delicate agreement between Israel and Jordan.

The same site where the mosque sits is considered the holiest site in Judaism.

Raphael Morris, a 26-years old right-wing Israeli Jewish activist, and his group “Returning to the Mount'' have been carrying out the prayers. The group believes that their actions will pave the way for "full Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount and building a Jewish temple over the Dome of the Rock."

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Morris disclosed that his group had infiltrated Al-Aqsa Mosque daily. He also revealed that people are reaching out to his organization, asking for help bypassing the ban.

"There are tens of thousands of Muslims who pass through these gates every day. Our target is to blend in and not get caught," Morris told Al Jazeera. He and his groups wear "costumes" and even take classes to learn some Arabic words.

"You change your clothes, you change your hats," Morris explained. "Sometimes you need to paint your hair and have a little haircut," he added.

Considered a flash-point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the mosque is not just a religious contention; it is also a geopolitical conflict, bidding its time.

The mosque, referred to by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary, is in the heart of a 35-acre compound. The Jews call it the Temple Mount.

In 1948, during the Arab-Israeli war, East Jerusalem came under the control of Egypt and Jordan. The administration of the mosque and its compound continued to remain with Jordan under the Hashemite custodianship.

When Israel occupied East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in 1967 during the third Arab-Israeli conflict known as the Six-Day War, the right to access the holy site became more intense. Israel has been enforcing Jordan's claims on the prayer rights to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, allowing only Muslims to pray, much to the dismay of Jewish fundamentalists.

Last year, Jerusalem Magistrates' Court upheld the ban that prohibits Jew from praying in the compound.

Speaking to the BBC, Morris, who describes himself as a Zionist religious Jew, claims their mission is to "re-conquer the Temple Mount." Morris believes that the area where the mosque is belongs to the Jewish people. "Because of what we were promised by God in the Bible," he added.

Once inside, Morris disclosed that they attempt to pray with the Muslims, but they "mumble the Jewish prayers." Or they skip joining the Muslims praying and "just stand wherever you want in the temple and pray."

Hanady Halawani, a Palestinian activist, claims that Morris's acts are aggression and "terrorizes Muslims praying in the mosque." Halawani also claims that Morri's actions are not just religious. "It's clear; it's political," she said.

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