Yehuda Etzion, Temple Mount
Yehuda Etzion, Temple MountAdam Prop

The Jerusalem District Court issued unprecedented criticism of Israel Police conduct on the Temple Mount Monday, in an appeal hearing against the expulsion of activist Yehuda Etzion from the site for 15 days for the crime of raising his hands in the air. 

Justice Ram Winograd called the arrest a "slippery slope," condemning police conduct on the Mount in general. He accepted the arguments of the Attorney Sinia Mozes-Harizi for the Honenu legal rights organization, who wrote in the appeal that Etzion lifting his hands was merely an expression of the God-fearing while walking around the Mount - which is Judaism's holiest site - and to cancel the ban on his visiting the Mount. 

Winograd also ruled that, contrary to police testimony, the Israel Police did not prevent Etzion from ascending the Mount with his hands raised on previous visits, based on video and photo evidence. As such, the "restriction" is a new and undeclared one on the Israel Police's part - and he ruled that "if the Israel Police wish to modify the instructions for ascending the Temple Mount, it should do so explicitly." 

Winograd then blasted the Israel Police for even more draconian rules, such as banning religious Jews from wearing the kippah (yarmulke) and for even lifting their eyes to the heavens. 

"Under the circumstances there is no need to discuss whether tilting palms up is an act of worship, it is sufficient that the police did not forbid this until now," wrote the judge. "Indeed, this is a slippery slope, and there is a need to think through every step before banning it." 

"From the outset it was clear to me that even within the framework of the shameful status quo that bans prayer at the Temple Mount that there is nothing wrong with raising [my] hands up," Etzion stated after the hearing. "By this act I wanted to express unity with the Temple Mount [...] and there recall also the prayer of King Solomon, who lifted his hands upwards during prayer." 

"I see this ruling as an important act, but implore the Israel Police to implement it, allow Jews entry onto the Temple Mount and enable us to walk with our hands raised, and not make the judge's ruling a mockery as it has treated other rulings of the courts."