3 young Jews in court for saying prayer on Temple Mount on Yom Kippur

The three said the ‘Shema’ prayer on the Temple Mount two years ago on Yom Kippur. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Three young Jewish men accused of reciting the “Shema” prayer on the Temple Mount faced the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday in an indictment brought against them, Arutz7 reports. Two are currently serving in the armed forces.

According to the indictment, the three were visiting the Temple Mount on Yom Kippur (or “Day of Atonement”) two years ago when, one after the other, they prostrated themselves and called out the “Shema” prayer. The prayer, which declares the absolute unity of God, is a declaration of the basic principle of Jewish belief.

The indictment says their offense comprised “conduct that may disturb the public peace” and “interference with a police officer in the carrying out of his duties.”

Although Israel controls the Temple Mount, having won it from the Jordanians in the 1967 Six Day War, under an agreement with Jordan Jews are allowed to visit, but not pray, on the site where the First and Second Temples once stood. It is considered the holiest site in Judaism. Israel’s security forces are also interested in avoiding anything that may trigger Muslim violence.

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Protesters gathered outside the court in order to support the accused. “The prayer of millions of Jews throughout the generations is on trial in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court,” the protesters said, according to Arutz 7.

The group Hozrim L’har (or, “Return to the Mount”) posted a picture of the three on its Twitter and Facebook pages with the comment, “On the evening of Yom Kippur in 1930, two young Irgun members were arrested after blowing the shofar in the Western Wall plaza because the British Mandate authorities banned the blast on the grounds that it was a ‘provocation’ to the Arabs. Since then not much has changed…”

The three youth are represented by Attorney Moshe Polsky of Honenu, a legal aid organization, and Attorney Yitzhak Bam of the Public Defender’s Office.

“It is unbelievable that after 72 years of ‘independence,’ the State of Israel is prosecuting its citizens who are serving as soldiers in combat service in Nahal [an IDF unit] just because they read Shema on the Temple Mount,” Polsky said.

“Beyond the folly of it and the tremendous damage to the sense of justice, it is a reminder that we are in the days between the straits when we mourn the destruction of the Temple,” Polsky said referring to a mourning period that began on July 9th this year commemorating important dates in the destruction of both Temples.

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“And here is actually a discussion which is a painful reminder of the state of exile in which we and the government find ourselves,” he said.