Blocking or not blocking access?
Blocking or not blocking access?Police spokesperson

Last Wednesday, Tom Nissani, director of the Beyadenu organization, was detained and arrested as he entered the Temple Mount, and was only released late that night.

“Israel Police don’t like certain types of people, especially those who are interested in changing the situation on the Temple Mount,” Nissani told Arutz Sheva. “So, what they do is find ways of dealing with them, including illegal ways, and one of them is finding pretexts to detain and arrest us when we arrive at the Temple Mount.”

In order to explain what happened last week, Nissani takes us back a week prior to the incident. “During Sukkot, I escorted several families to the Temple Mount,” he relates. “At Shaar Harachamim, I wanted to expand a little on what I was telling them about the site, but after stopping there for just a minute and a half, a police officer received the order to move us on, which he obeyed by shouting at me and shoving me. Then the commanding officer himself arrived and removed me entirely from the Temple Mount.

“I was told that they would be in contact with me with regard to a hearing, even though I didn’t get anything in writing to specify what I had supposedly done wrong. They do that deliberately so that later, they can argue that I was disturbing public order. In fact, they didn’t contact me about a hearing, nor did they issue a distancing order – and so there was nothing legally preventing me from entering the Temple Mount again. On October 5, I arrived at the Temple Mount and when they saw me, they wrote up on the spot an order to present myself for an interrogation.

“Last Wednesday, I went to the Temple Mount again, this time together with Emmanuel Brosh, who had a distancing order. They told us that we would not be allowed to enter. We decided to sit there in a way that we weren’t blocking access to anyone who was being allowed to enter. They brought five or six police officers with a commanding officer who told us that we were blocking access, and within minutes we had been detained – in the end, we were only released after 10 hours.

“At the interrogation, they asked me about my visit to the Mount a month previously, even though legally they were required to give me or my lawyer advance notice of their intention to question me on that visit.

“At the end of the interrogation, they returned everything they had confiscated from me, and released me without any restrictive conditions. What they did tell me was that they intended to issue me with a distancing order from the Temple Mount, even though they failed to present any proofs and didn’t give either me or my lawyer any chance to respond to their claims. They simply skipped all those procedures.”

Eventually, Nissani was told that he would not be permitted to approach the Temple Mount for a period of seven days, during which time a senior officer would be reviewing his case and deciding whether to lengthen the distancing order.

We asked Nissani if he thought that the police were motivated by a fear that his actions could cause the situation to flare up, and he admitted the basis for the concern, although he also argued that many police officers had privately expressed their support of him and told him that they felt he was being unfairly singled out.

“The reason why I go up to the Temple Mount is to change the situation and to undo the discrimination against Jews there,” he says. “I don’t hide this. And every official body, and certainly a government body, must operate in accordance with the law – and that includes the police, which is not permitted to arrest people without cause.”

Responding to the incident and allegations, the police said in a statement: “Contrary to the allegations, the two people concerned were taken for interrogation and it was later decided to distance them from the site, due to their having breached the regulations for visiting the site, and to having harmed the rights of other visitors. As can be seen from the documentation, they blocked the entrance to visitors to the Temple Mount and prevented people from passing while causing a public disturbance. It should be stressed that the courts have already dealt with the case of one of the two and ruled that he is to be distanced from the site.

“Israel Police always abides by the regulations for the site as established by the government, regulations which are intended to preserve public order and security.”