A Jerusalem Magistrates’ court ruled in favor of Itamar Ben Gvir, an attorney who has made a name for himself defending right-wing causes, supporting the right of Jews to say “Am Yisrael Chai” (May the nation of Israel Live) on their holiest site: the Temple Mount.
The court ruled in Ben Gvir’s favor on Monday in a suit he filed against the Israeli police. In September 2015, the police removed Ben Gvir from the Temple Mount and detained him for several hours, after he shouted out the phrase, “Am Yisrael Chai.” Ben Gvir claimed he called out the phrase in response to an Arab woman who cursed at his tour group, yelling “Allahu Akhbar” (Allah is greater).
The court ruled in Ben Gvir’s favor with regards to wrongful detention. The presiding justice in the case wrote in his ruling that “during the tour [on the Temple Mount] and afterward, cries of ‘Allah is the greatest’ were heard, and there is nothing wrong with saying ‘May the Nation of Israel Live.'”
The judge also criticized the police for not taking action against the Muslim woman who allegedly cursed the attorney and his group.
“One of the Muslim visitors cursed a Jew in Arabic and told him, ‘go away, you dog,’ and when the Jew asked for her details, the police refused to accept the details and did not bother to detain the woman,” the justice wrote.
The woman’s actions are consistent with those of the Murabitat, a group of women who were paid by the northern branch of the Islamic movement in Israel, to harass Jewish visitors at the Temple Mount.
In August 2015, the Murabitat were banned from the Temple Mount by Israeli Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan. One month later, former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon signed an order declaring the group an illegal organization.
Under the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty signed in 1994, Jordan was officially granted custodianship over Jerusalem’s Muslim sites including the Temple Mount. The Waqf (Muslim authority) is responsible for administration of the site and, therefore, ensuring the rights of visitors.
The court ruled that the Waqf is required to pay $14,000 in damages to Ben Gvir and the Israeli police would be required to pay $1,700.
Ben Gvir also made a claim of discrimination against the police due to his group, a group comprised of Jews, having been forced to wait for over an hour before being permitted onto the Temple Mount. Non-Jewish tourists however, were allowed to enter freely. The court rejected Ben Gvir’s claim in this regard.
Ben Gvir told Hadashot TV news that the ruling was “a gift to the Jewish people on the eve of Israel’s 70th Independence Day” and said he hoped that the courts would next rule that Jews be allowed to pray at their holiest site.
“I believe that the time has come for the courts to rule that Jews are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, just as Muslims are permitted to pray at the site,” he said to Hadashot TV. “There can be no wrongful discrimination at the most important site for the people of Israel.”