'An illegal and degrading arrest'

Temple Mount activist claims false, degrading arrest for praying near gate into holy site.

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Shlomo Pyotrovsky,

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The Honenu legal aid organization submitted a lawsuit this week on behalf of a Temple Mount activist, demanding compensation in the amount of NIS 30,000 for a demeaning false arrest.

The incident took place six months ago, when the plaintiff arrived at one of the Temple Mount's gates requesting to pray near the gate without entering the compound itself. Because of the police roadblock, the plaintiff claims, he stood on the side and prayed before the checkpoint without attempting to traverse the roadblock or to speak with the police.

At one point a policeman approached the plaintiff and ordered him to leave. The plaintiff asked why, received no answer, and a 2-minute debate ensued during which the plaintiff sought to understand the legal grounds for the policeman's order, with the police refusing to answer, instead arresting him on suspicion of "disturbing the peace."

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that upon hearing of his arrest he voiced no opposition to the arrest but started walking alongside the policeman toward the station, but the officer grabbed the plaintiff by the belt and below it, and proceeded while grasping his genitals to lead him forward.

The plaintiff panicked, and according to him demanded that the officer let go of him, to no avail, and then shouted that this was harrassment, but received no response.

According to the lawsuit, "the policeman herded the plaintiff in this manner for about 200 meters from the Cotton Gate to the police station in Beit Eliyahu in full view of passers-by, with him all the while calling and begging for the policeman to release his trousers in the face of the policeman's insensitivity and indifference."

The lawsuit was also filed for the false arrest, after the District Court who also watched videos documenting the event canceled the proximity to the Temple Mount ban imposed on the plaintiff, even stating that there is no legal impediment to Jews praying at the gates of the Temple Mount.

"This ugly, foul police behavior toward a citizen, with the policeman maintaining the advantage while abusing his authority to drag a civilian down the street in a humiliating and degrading manner, while the citizen was not only physically unable to defend himself, but was mainly exposed to a huge legal risk, because any act in self-defense would be considered attacking a policeman and would expose him to being indicted, remanded, and even imprisoned," said Atty. Menashe Yaddo of Honenu.

"Under these circumstances, compensation must be exacted from the Israel police for the police officer's abuse of the plaintiff and for taking advantage of his position, as well as for the arrest because he was a Jewish worshiper in a place where he is allowed to pray. This is an arrest that expressed an illegal position and that was executed illegally," the lawsuit said.