Situation at Patriarchs Tomb

A senior Israeli army officer said yesterday that the new regulations at the Tomb of the Patriarchs was not aimed at depriving Moslems of any time for prayers but to minimize the friction between Jews and Moslems. The officer, attached to the army’s Judaea and Samaria command, briefed newsmen in Hebron on the regulations announced by Defense Minister Shimon Peres which has been denounced by West Bank Arabs.

The officer stressed that the only change in the new regulations is that Jews are now allowed to pray at the tomb after 5 p.m. However, those Jews who want to hold evening prayers at the tomb cannot use the main entrance. He said nothing has changed in the regulations for Moslems. Jews are still forbidden to visit or pray at the tomb on Fridays until the evening, and on Moslem holy days. He also stressed that individuals, whether Jews or Moslems, are still allowed to pray wherever they choose within the tomb and-are not restricted to the halls set aside for Jewish and Moslem public services.

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