Israeli court protects right to Jewish prayer near Temple Mount

Three teenagers who had been arrested by police for praying near a gate close to the Temple Mount were released without any restrictions.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Police who arrested three 14-year-old girls on March 8th for praying outside the Forgiveness Gate of the Temple Mount were rapped by the judge in the case in a ruling published Sunday.

Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Shmuel Herbst ruled that the Jewish teens had just as much right to pray in any public space as Arabs do, as long as nobody’s rights were harmed in the process. And since they didn’t interfere with any passersby while praying, the police had erred in arresting them. As they had done no wrong, he denied the police request to distance them from the area for 90 days, dismissing the concern that their presence with prayerbooks in hand could provoke Arabs to violence.

As reported in Arutz Sheva, the judge noted, “The police representative’s argument that throwing of objects would have resulted from the young women’s presence is unacceptable to me, as I wouldn’t have accepted the claim that a man with a wallet full of cash walking in a neighborhood where many pickpockets live violates public safety and invites offenses.”

In essence, Judge Herbst agreed with the arguments put forth by the girls’ lawyer, Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who stated that his clients were not and should not be responsible for any violation of the public order, and charged the police with violating the young women’s freedom of worship and discriminating against them.

In commenting on the ruling, Ben-Gvir noted the importance of the court’s ruling, while lamenting the need for it. “It’s very sad that we were forced to hold a hearing on the right of Jews to pray in the Old City of Jerusalem, but I’m pleased Justice Herbst conveyed an unequivocal message to the police,” he said, according to the report.

“We are facing a slippery slope. First the police claimed Jews are forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount. Now, according to the police, it’s forbidden to pray in the Old City, because it may also annoy Arabs. If Judge Herbst hadn’t stopped it here, the next stage would be that Jews wouldn’t be allowed to pray in the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall.”

Jews are routinely arrested on the Temple Mount and hustled off if the police even suspect that they might be praying, on the pretext that it could provoke Arab violence. This reasoning is enough for them to override a clear ruling by the High Court of Justice that has upheld the basic right of all citizens to freedom of worship.