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Young girls detained “Circling the Gates” in Jerusalem

Monday, January 21, 10:47 Two Jewish girls aged 14, Y. and S., were detained last night in the Old City of Jerusalem as they were “Circling the Gates”. The police claimed that they illegally affixed stickers and issued a restraining order banning them from entering the Old City. The “Circling the Gates” organizers state that, “The police are trying to prevent a religious presence in the Old City.” Every month close to the beginning of the Hebrew month the police deliberate over whether or not to allow the “Circling the Gates” walk held on or close to the first day of the Hebrew month. The police sometimes cancel the event out of concern over the tense security situation in the Old City. Y., S. and a few of their friends decided that they would not wait for the formally organized walk around the Temple Mount. In order to express their longing for the Holy Temple the girls independently organized a walk. Every few weeks the girls come to the Old City and walk from gate to gate of the walls surrounding the Old City. According to the girls even though the Arabs at the site are clearly bothered by their presence and sometimes harass them physically and verbally they try to maintain order and concentrate on their walk. The girls added that at almost every encounter with the police in the Old City they try to discourage them from the walk, usually without success, because the walk is completely legal. Yesterday the girls arrived for their “Circling the Gates” walk and also distributed campaign stickers for the upcoming elections. According to the girls at some point policemen approached them and informed them that they were being detaining for “defacing property” because, according to the police, they affixed stickers in a place not designated for them. Y. and S. were taken to the ‘Kisleh’ Police Station in the Old City where they were interrogated. During interrogation the girls denied affixing the stickers. Additionally they were searched and after the search the policemen announced with a flourish that a knife was found among the possessions of S. and she is accused of possessing a knife. Her explanation of the knife being a kitchen knife used to cut the fruit which she was eating was not acceptable and so the two girls spent several hours in remand. After several hours in remand and negotiations between Honenu attorney Adi Kedar and representatives of the police it was agreed that the girls would be released and given a restraining order banning them from entering the Old City for 15 days. According to the girls they agreed to the condition only because they were able to appeal it on the following day. The organizers of the formal “Circling the Gates” walk report that, “The police would like the presence of religious Jews near the Temple Mount to be reduced to a bare minimum, if not completely stopped, and to that end they do not refrain from fraudulent means of framing Jews using false accusations against those who come to the site.” In response Honenu reports that they intend to file an appeal on the girls’ restraining order, “even if the police were correct on the matter of affixing stickers, which the girls strongly deny, defacing property is a misdemeanor which usually does not result in a detention and definitely not a restraining order, other than in extreme cases. Certainly affixing stickers by a fourteen year old girl two days before elections does not fit that definition.”

Other instances in which Honenu has assisted Jews detained at “Circling the Gates” are found here, here and here.

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