Women of the Wall clashing with Orthodox worshipers.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel Police has accused members of the Women of the Wall group of deliberately provoking Orthodox worshipers at the Kotel, after clashes ensued during the monthly prayer at the main plaza on Friday morning.
"Some women from the Western Wall came to the main prayer area, apparently deliberately to create friction and provocation, disregarding requests of the organizers and the police to pray in the courtyard of the women's section allocated to them," the police spokesperson said.
"Due to the density of different sects, this created local clashes that were handled by the police forces."
The spokesperson added that at the request of the women's group, those women were escorted back to the Ezrat Yisrael plaza, where they continued their service without disturbances.
Women of the Wall CEO Lesley Sacks hit back at the accusations, saying that they had spoken with the police and asked for protection from attacks, but that "the police refused to protect us and answered explicitly that the Western Wall rabbi is the only one who decides where everyone will stand at the Western Wall, and they can not intervene in this matter."
Sacks said that the group did no accept that answer and claimed that Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Western Wall rabbi, was not interested in protecting them.
She refuted the police's claim that women entered the main plaza to provoke traditional worshipers and said they have been praying there for 30 years.
"The Israel Police have abandoned the Women of the Wall and are now lying in their faces," Sacks said.
Over 10,000 Orthodox women, and 150 women from Women of the Wall were at the plaza just after 7 a.m. on Friday. Insults were reportedly exchanged between the two sides during the clashes.
The rabbi of the Western Wall appealed to the groups saying “that the Western Wall plaza is not a ... demonstration area and asked [for attendees] to refrain from provocations, and to guard the Western Wall as a unified place, and not a place of division."
“On Rosh Chodesh Adar II (Friday), I urge everyone to refrain from bringing their war to the Wall,” he said. “Please - the Western Wall is not a platform for ideas and not a platform for holding demonstrations.”
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