The High Court of Justice decided on Friday to set a temporary ban on an athletic meet scheduled for Shabbat, pursuant to a petition by a young fencer who is a religious Jew.
Yuval Freilich, the Israeli fencing champion aged 13 and under and under, and his father Gabi, petitioned the High Court on Wednesday, asking it order the Israel Fencing Association to refrain from holding tournaments on the Shabbat.
The petition, which also named the Science, Culture and Sports Ministry, claimed that fencers and swordsmen who observe the Shabbat are unable to take part in competitions held on Saturday, and this subsequently prevents them from representing Israel in international tournaments.
The Freilichs further asked the court to issue an interim order compelling the Israel Fencing Association suspend all the competitions scheduled for weekends and holidays for the 13 and under and 13-20 categories.
"As an observant person, Yuval is being denied the opportunity to take part in tournaments which take place on Shabbat or the holidays, tournaments which are imperative to his ranking in the sport. Furthermore, he has found himself in a position in which he has to withdraw from competitions which are held on Friday and continue into the Shabbat," said the petition.
The Freilichs, said the petition, have filed numerous requests with the Israel Fencing Association, asking the meets be rescheduled, but to no avail. The association finally agreed to promote weekday meets only after the Freilich family agreed to shoulder some of the costs of the rescheduling.
The family decided to petition the High Court after a pivotal tournament – said to determine who will represent Israel in the 13 and under category of the upcoming European Fencing Championship – was moved from Friday to Saturday.
The petition cited Yuval is discriminated against simply for being religious, and that the Israel Fencing Association's actions hinder go against the Equal Opportunities Act.