Oct 24, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Upon hearing about police indictments against Jewish pilgrims who prayed on the Temple Mount, Israel’s Interior Security minister Amir Ohana (Likud) sent a sharp letter on Thursday to the head of the police prosecution division reports Makor Rishon.  The Interior Security Minister’s main role is to oversee police activity.

Ohana wrote in his letter to Lt. Gen. Dado Zamir: “Several days ago I found out about an indictment that was filed with the Jerusalem Magistrates Court against three young men who were charged with crimes categorized as ‘disturbing a police officer in the performance of his duties’ and a recent indictment that was brought to my attention, whereby a man was accused of saying the Kaddish prayer on Jerusalem Day near the Sha’ar HaRahamim plaza on the Temple Mount, “while the other members of his group with whom he ascended the Mount answered Amen.”

Israeli minister of Justice Amir Ohana speaks at the annual Justice conference in Airport City, outside Tel Aviv on September 03, 2019. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

“I must confess, I had to read the text several times. I have never seen indictments like these before. In the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, in the capital of Israel, indictments were filed against Jews in the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people, where their souls yearned after thousands of years in exile and bowed and prayed “Shma Yisrael” (Hear o’ Israel). That’s their crime. That’s their sin. It’s hard for me to explain my feelings upon reading this. I cannot understand nor can I accept it” he said.

“Everyone agrees that the role of the Israel Police to enforce law and order to maintain public peace, especially in places where public order is particularly sensitive and explosive like the Temple Mount. And despite the restriction of ritual activity with visible external prayer items, which in and of itself is problematic with regards to human rights, freedom of religion, and worship. Still, the Temple Mount is the holiest place for the Jewish people for generations and some would say it is inconsistent with Israel’s values ​​as a Jewish and democratic state. One should not accept a reality interpreted as conduct that could lead to a violation of public peace, which entails such a serious and extreme indictment against these young people, for all the implications, that it entails, including marring them with a criminal record.

The arrest of one of the young people who prayed “Is it possible that the State of Israel will find itself accusing young Jews of reciting this sacred call that Jews have given their lives over for generations? Filing an indictment against them, as if they were criminals endangering the public peace”  the letter read.

A copy of the letter was also sent to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who is mentioned in the letter with some sarcasm in his role as acting state attorney.