A ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount has been extended to the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, police officials say, justifying the series of recent arrests of Jews praying outside of entrances to the Temple Mount.
After a number of arrests of Jews praying outside of the gates of the Temple Mount, police justified the arrests during a court hearing on Monday, claiming that the ban on Jewish prayer is not limited to the Temple Mount, but extends to the areas around the entrances to the holy site and even to the Muslim Quarter as a whole.
Police representatives Safi Sarahan and Roei Avrahami explained the ban in court, following questioning by an attorney from the Honenu organization representing several girls arrested for praying in the vicinity of the Temple Mount.
The officers revealed that prayer by Jews anywhere near the Temple Mount or even in the Muslim Quarter was considered “disturbing the peace”, except where coordinated with the police in advance.
“Prayer is permissible anywhere in the Jewish Quarter, but the moment you come without permission and pray in the Muslim Quarter, that causes a public disturbance. Inside the Muslim Quarters and the entrances it is forbidden to pray.”
When pressed by the Honenu attorney to cite the law which prohibited Jewish prayer in the Muslim Quarter, the police represents said the matter was within the discretion of the police, under their general responsibility for “keeping the peace”.
The presiding judge, Yael Yitav, accepted the police department’s argument and issued restraining orders barring the girls from the Muslim Quarter and Temple Mount for 15 days.
Honenu attorney David HaLevy blasted the police policy as “illegal”.
“This is an illegal policy of the Israeli police, whose goal is to create ‘manufactured quiet’ for itself,” said HaLevy, adding that the police had overstepped their authority and were infringing on the freedom of movement.