A 21-year-old Jewish man was arrested Tuesday afternoon on the Temple Mount on suspicion of making the customary blessing before drinking from a water bottle.
According to a witness also visiting the Temple Mount, the detainee requested permission from a police officer to drink from the water fountain on the site. When the officer refused, another policeman offered the youth a bottle of water.
The youth thanked the policeman, made the blessing over water and drank, whereupon he was informed by police officers that he was being detained on suspicion of making a blessing.
The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site, and also houses the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. The entire area is administered by the Jordanian-run Waqf Islamic trust, and despite its holy status to them Jews are forbidden from carrying out any forms of worship there.
The Honenu legal aid organization is working for the release of the young man.
"The saga on the Temple Mount continues," Honenu said in a statement. "Almost every day, Jewish visitors are stopped and arrested on suspicion of bizarre charges, which cross a red line every time."
"To arrest a Jew because he made a blessing over water is a scandal," the organization added. "If something like this happened abroad, they would argue it's anti-Semitism."