JERUSALEM — An Israeli court on Tuesday backed an Israeli government policy of allowing Christians from the Gaza Strip to pray at Israeli and West Bank holy sites, and denying the enclave’s Muslims the same right.
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal lodged by six Gaza Muslims and Israeli non-governmental organization Gisha to challenge a ruling of the Beersheba District Court, which refused to intervene against the policy.
The six women were prevented from going to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site in east Jerusalem, to pray during a Muslim festival.
They denounced the policy as discrimination in favor of Gaza’s 3,000 Christians and against around 1.6 million Muslims in the coastal enclave.
The Israeli authorities justified on security grounds limitations on access to Muslims holy sites it imposes periodically through quotas, ages or residence conditions.