Daily Israel Report

Man Sues for Police Violence at Kotel

A man sprayed with tear gas after trying to bring a musical instrument to the Western Wall.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/7/2013, 9:01 PM

Jew arrested on Temple Mount (illustrative)
Jew arrested on Temple Mount (illustrative)
Flash 90

A young Jewish man who says he was violently beaten after trying to bring an instrument into the Kotel (Western Wall) plaza is suing the Jerusalem Police.

Aryeh Tal arrived at the Kotel this week, planning to pray at the site. However, a guard refused to let him in due to the flute he was carrying in his bag.

Tal argued against the guard’s decree, asking why he could not go in with his flute. He pointed out that he had no intention of playing the flute in the Kotel plaza.

In response, the guard called for police. Border Police officers and Jerusalem Police officers arrived at the scene.

Tal continued to argue that officers had no reason to stop him, at which point the officers decided to arrest him. He moved his hands aside, trying to prevent one officer from putting handcuffs on him. Police then sprayed him directly in the face with pepper spray.

The incident was filmed by a bystander. Several other bystanders criticized the officers as they led Tal away, asking, “Why are you doing this?”

Tal was released from police custody after several hours. He later contacted attorney and nationalist activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, and asked him for help in filing a civil suit against the Jerusalem Police.

Ben-Gvir said that this is not the first complaint he has received against Jerusalem Police. He argued that there is no rule against carrying an instrument at the Western Wall.

“These disturbing pictures [of the arrest] just prove what we have been saying for months: police in the Old City of Jerusalem have got it in for Jews, and police are using unreasonable force and exploiting their authority,” Ben-Gvir accused.

“We will have to file a civil suit in order to teach police through their pockets why they must not pull out pepper spray for no reason,” he added.

A statement from the Jerusalem Police said, “A young Jewish man came to the entrance to the Kotel and sought to bring a flute inside. The guard explained to him that according to the Law for Holy Places, he is not allowed to bring in an instrument, and an argument broke out.

“The guard called a police officer to the scene. The officer explained as well that there is a prohibition on entering with an instrument, but [the young man] refused. The officer asked him to identify himself, and the young man gave him his identity card and then immediately grabbed it out of his hands.

“The officer tried to detain him. The young man refused, and a physical fight broke out between the two at the end of which he was arrested, questioned, and released.

“All relevant materials have been passed along to Internal Affairs,” the statement concluded.