Victory for Temple Mount activists as court slams police for ‘illegal’ bans

“The court has once again ruled that banning Jewish ascenders from the Temple Mount is illegal,” said NGO advocating for Jewish freedom of worship at the holy site.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Activists who encourage Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount won a legal victory on Friday, after a Jerusalem court ruled that a police order banning a Jewish woman from the compound was illegitimate and ordered that she be paid compensation for being kept away from the site.

S, an activist from the Beyadenu NGO which advocates for freedom of worship for Jews at the compound, was turned away from the Temple Mount in November 2021, after she participated in a protest at the site shortly after the murder of Eli Kay.

Kay, a South African immigrant, was shot to death by a terrorist from eastern Jerusalem near the Temple Mount. The Hamas-linked murderer, an Islamic studies teacher in a local school, had been a fixture at the site and was regularly in contact with the Waqf (the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount.)

As the protest ended and S left the Temple Mount, she was pulled aside by a police officer who informed her that she would need to have a “conversation” with authorities before she visited the site in the future.

S returned to the site several days later and spoke to a police officer, but was denied entry to the compound and told that she must attend a “hearing” with a senior police representative before visiting the Mount again.

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S repeatedly reached out to authorities, calling the police station dozens of times and returning to the site in order to arrange a meeting, but the police never sent her a written summons for the hearing and were opaque about the reasons for her ban and its duration.

The police eventually sent S a WhatsApp message announcing that she was forbidden from visiting the site for three months, with no explanation and no opportunity for her to appeal the decision.

Beyadenu’s legal team filed a petition against the decision, arguing that she was not properly informed about the ban and criticizing the police for its lack of transparency in the decision-making process.

Jerusalem District Court Judge Shai Tzarfati sided with Beyadenu and S, ordering that the police pay the activist 2,000 shekels ($560) as compensation for the illegitimate ban.

“The plaintiff, according to the police report, received a message that her ascent to the mountain is conditional on a clarification conversation, that, and nothing else,” he wrote in the ruling.

Tzarfati noted that the “plaintiff did not receive any summons for a written hearing” and stressed that bans constitute a serious violation of freedom of movement, requiring that recipients be properly informed and presented with evidence and reasoning as to why the ban was imposed.

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“The court has once again ruled that banning Jewish ascenders from the Temple Mount is illegal,” said Tom Nisani, the CEO of Beyadenu, in a statement.

“Our legal team, together with our partners from the lawfare project, will continue to act to ensure the fundamental rights of those who ascend to the Mount. We, too, have rights and we will not give them up.”