One of the youths barefoot
One of the youths barefoot Honeinu

Two boys aged 15 and 16 were arrested on suspicion of bowing down on the Temple Mount and were ordered to be 'distanced' from the site for two months by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court.

The two were arrested on Sunday this week. After several hours police investigators informed the attorney Rehavia Piltz of the Honeinu organization that they will remain in custody overnight and appear before a judge the next morning. Piltz rushed to urgently appeal the arrest on the grounds that there was no reason to keep juveniles in custody for the act of which they are suspected, and the judge Ilan Sela ruled that a hearing on the matter would be conducted that evening.

When the two arrived in court their lawyer was surprised to see that they were barefoot in the cold of winter. The youths had left their shoes at the entrance to the Temple Mount, in a special closet placed by the police for Jewish visitors to the site, and after they were arrested the officers did not give them back their shoes.

Piltz said that the violation of the minor's rights alone should be cause to release them, but police representative Superintendent Yoram Segal claimed, "I thought they left home without shoes," this despite the fact that the police itself placed the shoe closet at the entrance to the Temple Mount and know well that some of the visitors ascend the Temple Mount barefoot because of its sanctity.

During the hearing, the police representative argued that the two boys' act provoked a riot, but a video presented before the court showed that the incident was at an isolated corner of the Temple Mount, and except for a single call of "Allahu Akbar", there was no response from the Muslims.

"The one who created the turmoil was actually the police; instead of tolerating an act of prayer and bowing at the Temple Mount, they chose to make a showcase arrest," said Mr. Piltz at the hearing.

In the end, at Judge Sela's recommendation, the sides reached an agreement whereby the two will be distanced from the Temple Mount for a period prescribed by the judge. The judge ordered that the two be forbidden to enter the Temple Mount for 60 days, and that a third-party guarantor be signed as a condition for the release.

During the hearing, activists from the 'Chozrim l'Har' movement demonstrated outside the court to protest the arrest. Several protesters were detained but were released a short time later.

The civilian division of the Honeinu organization is already preparing a lawsuit against the police for violation of the rights of minors, handcuffing, and false arrest. The suit joins several others filed last year for violence and police abuse of detainees.

"It is sad that a police officer states untruths in court, and there is no adequate response from the court," said Mr. Piltz in response. "To leave two minors aged 15 and 16 barefoot in the Jerusalem cold for a full day is nothing but abuse, and this incident joins several complaints on police conduct by Jews arrested for praying in the Temple Mount".

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