Police request denied, indictment not filed

Wednesday, August 29, 2018, 13:22 The case against a young woman who prayed at the gates to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, which was observed this year on July 22, has been closed by the prosecution. After she was released from remand the police filed a request for an indictment against her. However in a hearing which was held prior to the time the prosecution intended to file the indictment, Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski brought about the closing of the case, and thus prevented the indictment from being filed. The young woman and her friends prayed at the Cotton Merchants’ Gate as the policemen at the scene started to discuss with them the matter of their leaving the site. While the young women were speaking with the policemen and asking them for “one minute to pray”, the Hagai Street Police Commander, Nitzan Douanis, arrived. The young woman, who was subsequently detained, stated that he approached them and on the pretext that they were obstructing Muslim believers ascending the Temple Mount, rudely demanded that they leave the site. She further stated that Officer Douanis roughly shoved them and started to pull on her arms. When one of her friends attempted to come to her assistance, he separated them. Then he handcuffed her so tightly that the handcuffs left marks on her arms. She also said that the only purpose for their presence at the site was to read a chapter of Psalms before proceeding to the Western Wall, and that they were about to leave when Officer Douanis started to shove her without verifying with the policemen at the site what the discussion was about. After a prolonged argument, during which Office Douanis used physical force, he detained her on the grounds of violating the freedom of access to a holy site, assaulting a policeman in the line of duty, and obstructing a policeman in the line of duty. She added that they were standing in a place where it was permitted to do so, and stated that, “I did nothing which I should regret.” However, Officer Douanis claimed the following: The young women were standing at the opening to the checkpoint and they stubbornly continued to pray there. He suggested to them to pray off to the side, but they objected. He warned them that if they did not leave the site he would be required to forcibly remove them, and during the discussion the detainee shoved him. In response he pushed the young women away with his vest and separated the detainee from her friends. He furthermore claimed that as he separated them the detainee dug her fingernails into his arm until it bled profusely, which is the grounds for the assaulting a policeman claim. Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski: “I am pleased that in this case the prosecutor for the police used proper judgment and ordered the case closed, especially in light of the illogic of the policeman’s testimony. I will note that many cases against youths, exemplary youth without criminal pasts, are being handled in the various courts only because of outrageous conduct on the part of policemen who many times conduct themselves inappropriately aggressively and themselves unnecessarily cause disturbances instead of maintaining order, ensuring the well-being of worshipers, and keeping the public peace. “I am pleased that at least the prosecution proved to have a sympathetic ear and proper understanding of the situation, reached the logical conclusion and decided to close the case.” In two other incidents this year dozens of worshipers were either detained or distanced from the gates to the Temple Mount: Tisha B’Av: Three Students for the Temple Mount activists detained and Tisha B’Av: Dozens distanced from the Temple Mount gates. Additionally, in recent years there have been several instances of Jews detained while attempting to pray either on or near the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av. See here for a 2017 case of a detainee tasered in the Old City of Jerusalem. See here for the report of the closings of two cases, one from 2015 and the other from 2016, each of which involved police brutality. See here for a 2013 case in which two Jewish girls were detained while praying near the gates to the Temple Mount, even though police at the site granted them permission to do so.

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