Jerusalem District Court judge Ram Vinograd reversed the decision of a lower court to ban activist Yehudi Etzion from visiting the Temple Mount for 15 days after he was arrested for lifting up his hands in the Temple Mount compound. The court ruled that lifting up the hands was a gesture of prayer, which is prohibited on the Temple Mount for non Muslims.
Judge Vinograd called the lower court’s ruling a “slippery slope”, claiming that if lifting the hands is prohibited then wearing a head covering or gazing upwards might also be prohibited, since they can also be considered acts relating to prayer. The judge said that the gesture was not sanctioned in the past, and that if police wanted to change the instructions on proper behavior at the site, it should have done so explicitly.
Yehuda Etzion raises his hands on the Temple Mount
Etzion and other activists visited the Temple Mount on the fast of Tevet, which marks the day that the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began in 588 BCE and led to the destruction of the first temple two years later. At a certain point they began to walk with their hands raised. A police officer told them to lower their hands but they refused and were than detained for questioning.
In the 1980s Etzion was sentenced to seven years in prison for his involvement in a plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Since his release he has been working to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount and has had repeated confrontations with the police.
During court proceedings the police claimed that Etzion posed a threat to public security. They explained that the situation on the Temple Mount is explosive yet they succeeded in extracting the Temple Mount from the current wave of terror.
Etzion said, after the ruling, ”From the start it was clear to me that even under the shameful status quo which bans prayer at the Temple Mount, there’s nothing wrong with lifting the hands upwards,”
Honenu, the group which filed the appeal on Etzion’s behalf, praised the ruling and said it “hopes police will learn from the judge’s statements and stop harassing Jews coming to the Temple Mount.
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