The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem on Thursday rejected the request of the police to distance nationalist activist and attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir from the Temple Mount for 15 days, and likewise ordered his immediate unconditional release.
Ben-Gvir had been arrested on Wednesday during the intermediary days of the Sukkot holiday on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, after he responded to Muslim extremists' shouts of "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is greater) by calling out "Am Yisrael chai!" (the nation of Israel lives!).
The arrest was caught on video.
In the court trial, a representative of the police claimed that aside from calling out that "the nation of Israel lives," Ben-Gvir had disrupted the order during security checks while entering the Temple Mount.
In response, Ben-Gvir presented video footage from his entry to the Mount during which he asked police why non-Jewish tourists were being allowed free access and he and other Jewish visitors were being delayed for several hours. The video also showed police refusing to answer why they were being made to wait, as he questioned the discriminatory practice.
The attorney stressed in court that if he were distanced from the Temple Mount, it would be a "dark day for democracy."
Ben-Gvir noted that he had only complained to a police officer about the discriminatory entry policy against Jews, and that he had heard the same officer cursing him over the police communications devices. That same officer was the one who detained him on the Mount.
Judge Menachem Hacohen ruled that Ben-Gvir's saying "Am Yisrael chai!" does not constitute a breach of public order and likewise isn't a prayer. The Jordanian Waqf, which enjoys de facto rule of the Mount, has banned Jewish prayer at the site despite Israeli laws ensuring freedom of worship.
Regarding the new police claim that Ben-Gvir caused a disruption during his entry to the site, the judge found that there was no evidence supporting the police claim, and ordered his immediate release without any conditions.
Ben-Gvir's run-in with the police came the same Wednesday that a Jewish minor was arrested by police on the Mount for mumbling a prayer silently, and was then held together with Arab terrorists.
The youth's parents report that he was mistreated in detention, held for five hours without food or drink and subject to demands to sign documents saying that his cell phone hadn't been seized, even though it had been.