The Jerusalem District Court accepted Monday the appeal of the Temple Mount activist Yehuda Etzion, and in canceling his expulsion from the holy site ruled that it was permitted to raise one’s hands while visiting there.
Etzion was barred from entering the Temple Mount last week on suspicion of violating the rules as he raised his hands as if in prayer. In his decision, Judge Ram Winograd criticized the police’s handling of the case and ruled that the approach taken regarding Etzion was leading to ‘a slippery slope.’
The judge ruled that “under the circumstances there should be no discussion of whether holding one’s palms upwards is an act of worship, it is sufficient to note that the police did not prohibit this action until now. I will note that taking this path, perhaps in the spirit of the verse in Isaiah Chapter 1, would warrant prohibiting lifting one’s eyes up to the sky, based on what is written in the Mishna, Tractate Rosh Hashanah, Chapter 3; and perhaps it is necessary to ban head coverings on the Temple Mount since pursuant to the Talmud this is a dress that proves the fear of Heaven."
Etzion and other activists visited the Temple Mount on the tenth of Tevet fast day last week, and at one point they walked with their arms raised. A police officer approached Etzion and ordered him to drop his hands as this was a prohibited motion of prayer, but Etzion refused to comply. He was detained for questioning and the Magistrate's Court accepted the police’s request to bar Etzion from the Temple Mount for two weeks on the grounds of posing danger to the public. Etzion appealed to the Supreme Court.
During the hearing, the police representative, Superintendent Ilan Granot, claimed that at the entrance to the Temple Mount there is a sign that clearly prohibits any form of worship on the site.
“The Temple Mount is an explosive site. We are in the midst of a terror wave that was sparked by this site. The Israel Police managed to remove the Temple Mount from the current terror wave,” Granot argued.
In response, attorney Iris Edri, on behalf of the Honenu organization, claimed that there was no danger to public safety.
Etzion said after the hearing that “from the outset it was clear to me that even within the framework of the shameful status quo prohibiting prayer at the Temple Mount, there is nothing wrong with raising one’s hands up. By this act I wanted to express unity with the Temple Mount and the Almighty."
In the 1980s, within the framework of the organization dubbed “the Jewish underground," Etzion was convicted of conspiring to blow up the Dome of the Rock and was sentenced to seven years in prison, although he did not express remorse. Even after his release he continued his activities to allow Jews to pray at the site and has clashed with police over and over again on this issue.