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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem


"Court Statement: ‘Young Jewish women have as much of a right to pray on Temple Mount as the Arabs do’

Jerusalem Magistrate Court Judge, Shmuel Herbest, refused a police request to forbid three minors, who prayed in a location close to Temple Mount, from approaching the site. ‘It is the right of every person in Israel to pray in any street, as long as he is not violating the rights of others’, said the judge.

A magistrate court ruled in a principle ruling, that the right of young Jewish women to pray at the gates of Temple Mount, is equal to the right of the Arabs, and the police must allow their prayer.

Three minors aged 14, were detained at the beginning of the month after they were found praying at the gates of Temple Mount at around 7:30 p.m. Police requested that they be forbidden from accessing the site for 90 days. They claimed that the minors' presence with a Siddur [Jewish prayer book], and their prayers at the gates of Temple Mount, could have led to violence.

Magistrate court judge Shmuel Herbest ruled, in a precedent-setting decision, that the right of the Arabs [to pray on Temple Mount], should not be prioritized over the right of Jews. […]

A police spokesman said in response: ‘Going there at the time when Muslims gather for prayer is an intentional provocation. It creates a situation that is negative and illegal. Their behavior, standing at the gate to Temple Mount for an extended period, when they see many people are exiting, and that there are many people in the street, is part of the problem.’

The location [where the girls stood] is an alley that allows ten wide-shouldered men to walk shoulder to shoulder. […] ‘The reaction to an object thrown towards the girls by Muslim worshipers should have been reinforcing police forces in order to protect the girls, and the border policemen that protected the girls did well’, said the judge. The judge refused the police request to forbid them from Temple Mount’s entrances and ordered the girls' release from detention immediately.

'A’, one of the girls that was detained said in a conversation with myNet Jerusalem: ‘We came out of a sense of commitment to an important mission and belief in Temple Mount. We did not wish to create a provocation. If policemen see Jewish girls around the Old City, they are automatically interrogated, and checked at the police checkpoint. I’m afraid that that is the policy. What kind of provocation can a 14-year-old girl cause?’

Regarding their detention at the police station: ‘It isn’t a normal situation for girls my age. I’ve been traumatized for life. I don’t think that there’s anyone who would find it pleasant to be in a police station with criminals. In spite of the present difficulties and our young age, we will continue to be active and visit Temple Mount.’

Adv. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the girls’ representative: ‘It is sad that in Israel in 2018 it is necessary to conduct a discussion in court in order to allow Jewish girls to pray in the Old City. I am pleased that the court made it clear to police that it is the girls’ right to pray, and if there are Arabs that wish to prevent them from praying, the police must act against them.

‘The conduct of the police is a slippery slope. Yesterday they said that you are forbidden from praying on Temple Mount, today they’ll say that it is forbidden in the Old City, and tomorrow they’ll say that Jewish prayer in Jerusalem’s city center might infuriate the Arabs.’

Police response: ‘The girls were summoned for questioning following behavior that could have caused a disruption of public order in an alley of the Old City. They failed to appear as instructed a number of times, and after two weeks were detained by policemen. Due to the late hour and their age, the girls received a summons for questioning for the next day.

In accordance with their alleged actions, the girls were summoned to a court hearing. Israel Police will not permit any behavior that will endanger public safety, or that may hurt public order. Israel Police will act against such people to stop them, and remove them from the site.’"

– myNet Jerusalem

0202 Editor's Notes:
The matter of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount/Haram A-Sharif is extremely contentious. The Temple Mount is Judaism's most sacred site, and there is a debate within Judaism whether it is allowed or forbidden to visit the site, due to its sanctity. At the same time, Haram A-Sharif is an extremely important and sacred Islamic site. At the site are Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, two of the most ancient Muslim buildings and places of worship.
Currently, Jewish prayer is forbidden at the site out of consideration for Muslim sensitivities. There is a demand that Jews be allowed to pray there, saying the prohibition violates Jews' right of worship.

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