Women of the Wall defy AG's ruling, leading to clashes
Multi-denominational feminist organization violates AG's decision barring them from praying at the women's section of the Western Wall, leading to clashes with opposing group Women for the Wall; Western Wall Heritage Foundation threatens orders barring the warring women from the holy site.
Women of the Wall held a prayer in the Western Wall plaza on on Thursday celebrating the beginning of the Hebrew month of Tamuz, during which they read from the Torah and refused to enter a separate section fenced off by the police.
The prayer was in violation of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit's decision to no longer allow Women of the Wall, a multi-denominational feminist organization, to pray in the women's section of the Western Wall plaza. Instead, they have been designated a separate, fenced-off area.
The prayer led to clashes between the Women of the Wall and those who oppose them. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation said they will examine the possibility of issuing restraining orders to those women who violated the attorney general's decision.
Representatives from the Justice Ministry were present during the group’s prayer to closely monitor the events and make sure the attorney general's instructions are being adhered to.
Explaining their refusal to pray at a separated fenced-off area allocated for them, the Women of the Wall said they “refuse to enter a pen, which is supposedly there to protect us but is actually a tool used by the Western Wall rabbi to opress and humiliate us. It is our right to pray like everyone else.”
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation said that “Women of the Wall came this morning to the women’s section (of the Western Wall), caused provocations and disrupted the public order during the mass prayer to mark the beginning of the month of Tamuz.”
“The (Women of the Wall) chose to hide among the Orthodox women, thus creating a commotion and controversy, violating the instructions of the Justice Ministry.”
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation said a meeting will be held in the coming days of the relevant government authorities to discuss the matter. In addition, “we’ll examine the possibility of taking steps against those who protested against (the Women of the Wall) in contravention of procedures.”
The Women for the Wall, a group created to oppose the prayers of Women of the Wall, petitioned the court on Wednesday night to issue an injunction against the Women of the Wall's monthly prayer, fearing the attorney general's instructions would be violated.
The opposition Women for the Wall group accused Women of the Wall of provocation and called on the Justice Ministry on Thursday to put an end to their “the offensive and violent behavior.”
“When will the Israel Police realize it should treat these events the way they treat other violent demonstrations in the country?” wondered one member of Women for the Wall.
“The Women of the Wall are disrespecting the Justice Ministry and the police remain silent,” she raged.
The Liba Yehudit group has urged Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch to “demonstrate courage and enforce (Women of the Wall's) removal from the Western Wall" at the beginning of every month in the Hebrew calendar.
On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Erez Kaminitz sent a letter to Women of the Wall, warning that orders will be issued against its members barring them from the Kotel if they bring Torah books with them into the Western Wall plaza.
The Attorney General's Office has adopted a new, much stricter interpretation than the court, which allowed the Women of the Wall to pray in the central Western Wall plaza, without conditions.
The decision was made following a request from the police and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation to separate between the Women of the Wall and the rest of the women at the holy site, in an effort to prevent violent confrontation between the two groups.
In recent months, the Women of the Wall have been fighting a legal battle against Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch after he barred them from bringing their own Torah books into the holy site. While male worshippers are allowed to use “public” books available at the location, women don’t have access to them and cannot pray according to their customs.
Until the High Court of Justice rules on the issue, the Women of the Wall intend to continue violating the decree and sneaking in Torah books.