Activists hailed what they labeled as an historic victory on Monday, after the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court issued a ruling ostensibly backing claims that Jews be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount.
Activist Yehudah Glick had brought a law suit against the Israel Police for banning him for two years from visiting the site because of video evidence of him praying there.
Glick, who was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt last year by a Palestinian extremist, was banned from the Temple Mount between 2011 and 2013 after he was seen uttering a Jewish prayer at the site in a Channel 10 broadcast.
The security services prohibit non-Muslims from praying or engaging in other forms of worship on the Temple Mount, claiming that such activity inevitably triggers Palestinian violence.
The Supreme Court has previously upheld the theoretical right for Jews to pray at the site, although it has stated that the security services are permitted to take security considerations into account when deciding whether to allow non-Muslim prayer there.
On Sunday, Judge Malka Aviv said the police ban on Glick visiting the site was issued “without appropriate consideration, was arbitrary, and only out of concern for the consequences of the broadcast.
“There is nothing in the deeds of the plaintiff [Glick] that justified in any way the punishment that he received, not in the ban itself and not in the extended period [of the ban],” she said.
Glick was awarded NIS 500,000 in damages and NIS 150,000 in legal costs by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court for the ban.
The judge insisted that Jews have a right to pray on the Temple Mount.
“The legal authorization of the defendant [the police] is, in accordance with the ruling, to be concerned for Jews being able to pray on the Temple Mount, and to act in a sweeping way in order to prevent Jews from praying on the Temple Mount,” the judge wrote.
Attorney Aviad Visoly who represented Glick said that Malka had effectively allowed Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.
“The court permitted [Jewish] prayer on the Temple Mount,” he said following the ruling. “Essentially, the court took the ruling of the Supreme Court regarding the right of Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, and implemented it in practice,” he explained.
“Starting from today, all Jews are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. There is no longer any crime in prayer itself.”
Arnon Segel, a journalist and commentator on Temple Mount issues, expressed doubt, however, that Jewish prayer will now be freely permitted at the holy site.
Segel noted that the government has committed to upholding the so-called status quo over the Temple Mount not to allow non-Muslim prayer, something which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-committed to in November last year.