The nationalist Women in Green organization has asked the High Court to cancel a police ban on Jews praying in a Tisha B’Av prayer march near the Temple Mount.
Women in Green leaders Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar filed a petition to allow the march, which usually attracts thousands of worshippers and has been allowed for 18 years.
The police prohibited the march this year because of concerns of outbreaks of violence as a result of the date falling this year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when tens of thousands Muslims swarm on to the Temple Mount.
The police said the march could take place but only on condition that the usual route is altered and not pass through a road where authorities fear friction.
The petition points out that there have never been reports of violence during the past 18 years, including times when Tisha B’Av coincided with Ramadan. The appeal adds that if police fear violence from Arabs, the restrictions should be placed on Arabs and not Jews.
“Jerusalem is the united and undivided capital of Israel and of the Jewish people, and it is inconceivable that Jews will not be allowed to march in it, and especially so on Tisha b'Av eve,” Matar and Katsover said.
They added, “The police's demand severely harms Jerusalem's sovereignty.”
Prayer marches around old gates, now closed off to the Temple Mount, have been conducted monthly for years under strict police supervision and escort, with rare incidents of Arab protests.
Under Jordanian rule, Jews were barred even from praying at the Western Wall. When the area was restored to Israeli sovereignty in the Six-Day War in 1967, the government opened up all holy sites to Jews, Muslims and Christians, who also were banned by Jordan from visiting churches.