Woman Banned from Temple Mount Over Grape Juice

Police banned a woman from entering the Temple Mount because they found a bottle of grape juice in her possession. Court cancelled the ban.

Nir Har Zahav and Ben Ariel ,

Temple Mount
Temple Mount
Flash 90

A Jerusalem court on Tuesday accepted an appeal filed on behalf of a Jewish woman who was banned from entering the Temple Mount because she was carrying a bottle of grape juice.

The appeal was filed by Attorney Naftali Warzberger of the Honenu legal aid organization, a week after the 54-year-old woman from Maaleh Adumim was removed from the compound when the grape juice was found among her belongings.

"I had in my bag about 170 ml of grape juice, some cookies, dates, carrots and Bamba (peanut flavored snack -ed.)," the woman recalled. "The security officers took the grape juice out of my bag and asked what it was. I replied that it was grape juice but an officer who sniffed the bottle said he was not familiar with alcohol and the bottle should be submitted for inspection.”

A few minutes after the officer took the bottle, the woman recalled, she was informed that she was being detained for questioning. She was questioned at a local police station for several hours about her intentions to enter the Temple Mount with a bottle of grape juice. She was required to provide fingerprints, had her mug shot taken and, after she felt unwell and the interrogation was stopped several times, a police officer instructed her to sign an order banning her from the Temple Mount for 15 days and told her that the bottle of grape juice was being confiscated.

The woman turned to the Honenu organization for assistance and Attorney Warzberger filed an appeal to the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem, demanding that the ban be removed and noting that the woman’s arrest was illegal since there is no prohibition in Israeli law to be in possession of grape juice, even on the Temple Mount.

Judge Miriam Keslasi of the Jerusalem Magistrates Court ordered police to respond to the appeal, but the police did not respond to the request and nor did they send representatives to the court hearing held on Tuesday. As a result, the judge ruled that the ban will be canceled.

Banning a person from the Temple Mount over grape juice is outrageous, but it is merely another example of the police maintaining the discriminatory status quo on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

Jewish visitors face severe restrictions upon ascending the Mount, including a blanket ban on praying or on performing any other form of worship, as well as restrictions on the size of groups which can ascend. Those who violate the restrictions face arrest and a prolonged ban from ascending altogether.

Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response toMuslim riots - for days or weeks at a time - despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out. Prominent Israeli MKs, such as Moshe Feiglin and Ze’ev Elkin, have been forced to leave the Temple Mount due to fears of violence.

The Waqf, which was left in charge of the Temple Mount after Israel liberated it during the 1967 Six Day War, consistently destroys Jewish antiquities on the compound in a direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.