Women of the Wall and veteran paratroopers in New Month prayers beside the Western Wall security checkpoint, October 20, 2017..
(photo credit: OSHRAT BEN SHIMSHON)
Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman and others from the prayer group have been warned by the police and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, in coordination with the Justice Ministry, that they face being banned from the Western Wall for having ignored police orders during their monthly prayer service on Tuesday morning.
In recent months, the Women of the Wall group has been required to pray inside a police cordon within the women’s section, which the Western Wall Heritage Foundation says was required by a recent decision of the High Court of Justice.
WoW and Hoffman have protested this policy, however, saying that although they want police protection from serial harassment at the site, the area allocated to them and cordoned off by metal barriers is at the margins of the site, a situation they say is unacceptable.
On Tuesday morning they decided to pray outside of the cordon, leading to the warning that they may be banned from the site next month for disturbing the public order at the site and disobeying police and court orders.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation also accused WoW prayer participants of having physically pushed and shoved other women in seeking to find an alternative spot in the women’s section to pray, saying that they had received dozens of such complaints about such incidents from other worshipers.
“The Western Wall Heritage Foundation and the Israel Police are obligated according to the law to protect the status quo and the instructions of the court, and not to allow any group to take the law into their own hands,” said the organization.
“Therefore, in consultation with the legal authorities, those women were warned that they would be distanced from [the site].”
Hoffman told The Jerusalem Post
, however, that it was WoW worshipers, including herself, who had been pushed and shoved as they sought to find an appropriate prayer spot.
She also said that the head of security for the Western Wall Heritage Foundation actively solicited complaints against WoW worshipers and leaders of the group by name, her included.
“We were asked to pray inside a pen which is as far from the wall and as hidden as possible,” said Hoffman, acknowledging that they had decided to pray outside of the police cordon.
“We have been pushed to the side of the area, where it’s hard to see the wall, let alone touch it and we don’t want to be there. We are hundreds of women and we want to be where we can see the wall.
“This group has hope, it is a sisterhood with a cause which way surpasses the rabbi [of the Western Wall]. They are now banning us from the Western Wall, they’re saying every part of the wall is a haredi synagogue, so everyone who cares about equality must stand with Women of the Wall, because this will end with banning everyone who doesn’t look and act how the rabbi wants.”