One of the two central witnesses in a case of alleged indecent assault against prominent national-religious leader Rabbi Moti Elon gave testimony on Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court.

Elon, formerly the dean of the renowned national-religious institute Yeshivat Hakotel in the Old City of Jerusalem, was charged with five counts of indecent assault and indecent assault by force in November 2012. He strenuously denies the charges.

The two witnesses, known as Aleph and Bet, claim separately that Elon touched, kissed and stroked them in an inappropriate manner in private meetings they held with the rabbi. The incidents in question date back to 2003 and 2005.

Because of the sensitive nature of the allegations the testimony of the two main witnesses is being conducted behind closed doors without media access. Elon denies the allegations against him and has said that nothing he did had any sexual motivation whatsoever.

The rabbi’s supporters argue that he was accustomed to giving warm hugs to many of his students and that the incidents in the meetings with the two witnesses were misinterpreted.

A close associate of Elon’s previously told that anyone who knows him would recognize that this is how the rabbi has acted with thousands of people who have sought his advice and friendship.

“Everyone who knows Rabbi Elon and his body language and reads the accusations thinks it’s ridiculous,” the aide said. “He hugged me at my wedding under the huppa. He is very warm and this is how he expresses it.”

The rabbi’s associates claim that the allegations, originally brought against Elon by the Takana Forum, are politically motivated and stem from his opposition to positions held by other national-religious rabbis on issues of national security, particularly the disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

Elon was opposed to calls for national-religious soldiers involved in the evacuation of settlements in the Strip to refuse orders.

Takana was established by leading figures of the national-religious community to combat harassment and initially brought the allegations against the rabbi to light.

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