Woman who stripped at Western Wall indicted

Maya Benvenisti expressed her disgust of the then-proposed 'modesty law' by stripping down to her underwear smack in the middle of the women's prayer site of the Western Wall, but could end up paying quite a price for it

Liran Tamari|

On Thursday, the Jerusalem Police submitted a formal indictment to the city's Magistrate's Court against Maya Benvenisti, a 36-year-old woman who garnered attention for her involvement in a protest at the Western Wall in February.
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The indictment states that Benvenisti communicated with journalists, created a WhatsApp group, and invited them to witness her demonstration without disclosing the partial nudity she intended to put on display.
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תיעוד: אישה התפשטה בכותל במחאה
תיעוד: אישה התפשטה בכותל במחאה
Maya Benvenisti protests the ultra-Orthodox Shas party's 'modesty law' at the Western Wall
(Photo: Oren Ziv)
The indictment reveals that Benvenisti made the decision to protest against the "Modesty Law" proposed by ultra-Orthodox Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, which has since been taken off the Knesset agenda.
The legislation stipulated that individuals who violate the modesty regulations at the Western Wall could face potential consequences, such as six months in prison or a 10,000 shekels ($2,900) fine,.
Benvenisti initiated communication with journalists and formed a WhatsApp group named "Protest at the Western Wall," in which she conveyed the following message: "On Sunday at 11:00, we will convene at the food court located at the top of the stairs leading to the Wall.
"Our attire will consist of regular clothing, while underneath, we will be wearing protest attire without veils or signs. Individually, each of us will enter the women's section at the predetermined time, appearing as visitors. Once inside, we will disperse and remain dressed in protest attire."
Despite the fact that she realized she would end up being the only one to actually go through with it, Benvenisti remained determined and ended up stripping alone.
The indictment reads: "In order to carry out her intended action, the defendant arrived on March 12, 2023, at approximately 10:55 a.m., to the Western Wall Plaza in the Old City.
"She entered the women's section of the Wall wearing a skirt, pajama top and a sweater, with a swimsuit underneath these garments.
"When the journalists were present, she removed her clothes and stood dressed solely in a swimsuit, which included a bra and underwear, exposing different parts of her body, including her thigh area, while shouting, 'Bibi, let my people go,' as stated in the indictment.
"Benvenisti is charged with engaging in conduct that could potentially disrupt public peace," according to the indictment.
Western Wall chief rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitch, expressed his deep dismay immediately following the unusual incident, saying in a statement that “We are horrified by the despicable act of provocation that occured this morning at the Western Wall Plaza, which desecrated the holiness of the site and deeply offended the public and worshipers.
“The Western Wall is a sacred site cherished by all Jews, and it should be preserved as a symbol of unity and reverence, devoid of division or provocative behavior."
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