TEL AVIV – A man has won a court case after refusing a police order on the Temple Mount to drop his hands, a gesture which could be perceived as praying and therefore offensive to Muslims, the Jewish Press reported.
Yehudah Etzion visited the Temple Mount on a Jewish fast day last week, but was told by police to leave the premises and barred for a further two weeks for holding out his hands.
Police told Etzion that his outstretched arms were a threat to public safety. In accordance with Muslim demands, the Israeli government prohibits Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.
The case ended up in court with the verdict being that since there are no specific definitions as to what constitutes prayer, Jews should be allowed to hold out their hands while visiting the Temple Mount.
In his ruling at the Jerusalem District court on Monday, Judge Ram Winograd cited the book of Isaiah and the Talmud.
“Under the circumstances there should be no discussion of whether holding one’s palms upwards is an act of worship, it is sufficient to note that the police did not prohibit this action until now,” said Winograd.
“I will note that taking this path, perhaps in the spirit of the verse in Isaiah Chapter 1, would warrant prohibiting lifting one’s eyes up to the sky, based on what is written in the Mishnah [a section of the Talmud]. Perhaps it is necessary to ban head coverings on the Temple Mount since pursuant to the Talmud this is a dress that proves the fear of Heaven.”
Police Superintendent Ian Granot argued, “The Temple Mount is an explosive site. We are in the midst of a terror wave that was sparked by this site. The Israel Police managed to remove the Temple Mount from the current terror wave.”
Despite the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty that includes an article stating that all parties can practice freedom of religion, Israel nevertheless agreed to prevent Jewish worship at the holy site.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in 2000 was said to be the catalyst of the Second Intifada.
There have been multiple instances of police forcibly removing Jewish visitors from the site after they were caught prostrating themselves or moving their lips – in some cases amid protests that they were shivering from cold.