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Jews indicted for prayer on Temple Mount

Monday, December 16, 2019, 9:35 On Sunday, December 15, at the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, the trial of three Jewish youths detained during the summer of 2019 on the Temple Mount began. Two of the youths are active duty soldiers and all three are in their 20s. They recited the Shema Yisrael prayer on the Temple Mount and were subsequently charged with behavior likely to disrupt the public peace and indicted. According to the bill of indictment they also prostrated themselves opposite the Dome of the Rock. The bill of indictment states that after the defendants recited the Shema Yisrael prayer, dozens of Arabs surrounded them, threatened them and shouted at them. Policemen who were escorting the group rushed to remove the Jews from the Temple Mount, but did not take any action against the Arabs who had threatened the Jews. At a deliberation over which Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge Gabai-Richter presided, two of the defendants requested that the reading of the bill of indictment be postponed so that they could arrange legal representation. Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski, who is representing the third defendant, said that it would be best if such an indictment were not filed being as it is illogical for reciting the Shema Yisrael prayer in 2019 Israel to constitute a criminal offense. After the deliberation, Poleski leveled sharp criticism: “The indictment is scandalous. It is unthinkable that in the State of Israel, reciting the Shema Yisrael prayer on the Temple Mount would be considered a criminal offense, however one looks at the situation. This is reminiscent of the days when we had to smuggle a shofar to the Western Wall because the foreign government prohibited [bringing a shofar to the Wall]. It is a very grave situation today, when we are not entitled to realize our basic religious rights on the Temple Mount. “Moreover, the claim by the police that reciting the Shema Yisrael prayer on the Temple Mount or prostrating oneself at the site is liable to cause disruption of public order, is unacceptable. There is a Supreme Court ruling on the subject and when there is violence the police must remove the violent element. The police must not be intimidated by the Waqf, allowing a disturbance and then blaming the Jews for it.” Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski concluded: “At every disturbance by the Arabs the police have not done a thing, and have shown powerlessness. Specifically when a few youths come to fulfill a mitzva at the site, and not to create any disturbance, the police know how act decisively and file a preposterous indictment.” For a selection of cases in which Honenu Attorneys represented Jews detained on or near the Temple Mount please see here.

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