Attorney who was detained for shouting ‘the Jewish people live’ after Muslim extremists shout at Jewish visitors wins suit against police.
Jerusalem Magistrate Court Judge Mordechai Burstein partially accepted the claim of attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, stating that he was illegally detained after saying ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ (the people of Israel lives) on the Temple Mount.
During the intermediate days of Sukkot in 2011, attorney Ben-Gvir entered the Temple Mount after waiting for an hour and a half in a queue that was separate for Jews and tourists.
When he finally entered Judaism’s holiest site, Waqf employees began calling out to him and a group of Jews, “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for ‘god Is great. Ben-Gvir responded by calling out to them: “Am Yisrael Chai”.
The officer standing next to Ben-Gvir detained him for questioning on the grounds that he had violated the law. Ben-Gvir was detained for three hours and filed a suit against the Waqf and the Israel Police on the grounds that he was detained at the entrance to the Temple Mount and that an illegal delay was implemented by the officer.
About a year and a half ago, a verdict was handed down against the Waqf, which did not file a statement of defense and was obliged to pay attorney Ben Gvir fifty thousand shekels, but the prosecution against the Israel Police continued.
Today, Justice Burstein published his ruling and accepted the prosecution in all matters related to Ben-Gvir’s delay in calling “Am Israel Chai”.
The prosecutor was entitled to appeal to the police officers and complain against the Waqf members, while on patrol, after which the cries of Allah were heard, and there is nothing wrong with saying “Am Yisrael Chai”, and this is not an offense.
The judge added that Ben-Gvir was not warned before his detention, and that in any case there was no cause for a delay when “One of the Muslim visitors cursed a Jew in Arabic and told him to go away from you. They did not bother to detain the woman [who made the offensive comments].”
Despite the evidence in the video, the judge rejected Ben-Gvir’s claim that the inspections Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount undergo and the separate entrance they are forced to use constitutes discrimination and ruled that it was indeed impossible to ignore the fact that the checkpoint did not allow Jews to enter the mountain complex for many minutes and that the inspection area was improperly blocked by the security guard stationed at the site. However, the singling out and mistreatment of the Jewish visitors as a rule was not proven.
The judge ordered the police to pay compensation of NIS 6,000 to attorney Ben-Gvir, as well as legal expenses and attorney’s fees in the amount of thousands of shekels.
Ben Gvir said following the verdict: “The court gave a gift to the Jewish people in anticipation of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, but I believe that there was no reason to reject my claim regarding discrimination at the entrance to the Temple Mount, especially after the judge watched the tape documenting the police’s conduct. Just as Muslims pray there, there can be no wrongful discrimination in the most important place for the people of Israel.