Activists detained at Temple Mount gates

Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 14:29 The police have started to use a particular legal clause in their opposition to Temple Mount activists. The four young men and two young women who were detained on Monday, August 29 as they “circled the gates” of the Old City of Jerusalem and attempted to pray near the gates to the Temple Mount have been accused of “violating the freedom of access to a holy site” by a police representative during a deliberation on the case. The six youths arrived at the gates to the Temple Mount in pairs and attempted to pray at the site. According to the police some of them shouted and based on what they shouted it seemed that they intended to ascend the Temple Mount itself. At the deliberation the police representative admitted that none of the youths had crossed the police barricades placed in front of the gates. However according to the police the youths’ behavior constituted a violation of the public peace, disturbing a policeman in the line of duty, and violating the freedom of access to a holy site. The police claimed that their presence near the gates prevented access to the Temple Mount by Muslims. Honenu Attorney Nati Rom, who represented all of the detainees, asserted that they had not carried out any violation and had been detained without cause. The youth also claimed that the policemen had not filled out their report accurately because they had attempted to pray near the gates, standing off to the side and had not obstructed passage. The police demanded that the court order the youths distanced from the Temple Mount for 4-15 days and two of them distanced from the entire Old City of Jerusalem for 30 days. Jerusalem Magistrate Court Judge Ya’el Yitav ordered the two young women distanced from the Temple Mount and its gates for seven days. One young man was distanced from the Temple Mount and its gates for 21 days and another was distanced from the entire Old City for 30 days, because the police claimed that he had been involved with similar acts in the past. Honenu Attorney Nati Rom stated after the deliberation that the use by the police of the clause relating to “violating the freedom of access to a holy site”, which carries a penalty of up to five years of imprisonment, is outrageous and absurd. Rom: “The claim by the police that the youths violated ‘freedom of access to a holy site,’ is unparalleled in its absurdity. The Israeli Police themselves in a systematic and prolonged manner violate the freedom of Jews to access the Temple Mount, the holiest site, and recently they prevented prayer at its gates. I call on the police ‘to follow the path of legal ruling’ as Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori said, and not to violate the fundamental rights of the youths.” At the headquarters of Temple Mount organizations activists have responded with astonishment at the ruling distancing Jewish worshippers from the gates to the Temple Mount: “Jewish prayers at the gates to the Temple Mount have been held throughout all generations, even during the years of Turkish rule. We fully support the ‘Hozrim LaHar’ (Returning to the [Temple] Mount) activists who devotedly lead the struggle fighting decrees against Jews on the Temple Mount and the surrounding area.”

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