Thirteen Jewish worshippers were detained and questioned by police at the Temple Mount Monday morning following two separate incidents of civil disobedience.
According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the first incident involved three men who laid on the ground to protest police restrictions of open prayer among Jews at the holiest site in Judaism – located adjacent to al-Aksa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.
As the three were taken into police custody, Rosenfeld said a group of 10 men from another group began waving Israeli flags, praying and singing the national anthem, resulting in their detention, and the temporary closure of the site.
Although the Supreme Court has upheld Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount – which is overseen by the Wakf Muslim religious trust – the court also allows police to prevent any form of worship there if they believe such activities will incite a “disturbance to the public order.” This caveat has resulted in a contentious debate among religious Jews and the government, as any form of prayer among Jews there – including simply moving their lips to appear to be praying – is considered a “public disturbance,” and has resulted in a plethora of detainments.
“Freedom of expression is not permitted on the Temple Mount,” said one unidentified witness to Monday’s detentions.
“It’s time freedom of expression and human rights also be given to Jews on the Temple Mount. Everyone should have the privilege to pray at this holy site.”
This is the second incident involving the detention of Jews attempting to pray at the Temple Mount in less than a week. On Thursday three men were also detained for illegally praying there.
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