Six Jews, five of them minors, were arrested Sunday on the Temple Mount after Muslim Waqf men reportedly cursed and attacked them. They spent the night in police lockup at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem and were brought before a Magistrates' Court judge Monday.
Police asked that they be freed under condition that they stay away from the Temple Mount for 60 days.
The six ascended to the Temple Mount, where they say they were accosted by the Waqf men. According to the Honenu civil rights organization, which is representing them in court, when the Jews demanded that police arrest the Waqf men, they themselves were arrested instead.
Honenu's lawyer filed a motion with the Magistrates' Court to free the Jews Sunday but the motion was denied. He then appealed to the District Court but the judge said it was too late at night to hold a session and the Jews remained in custody overnight.
They expect to be released Monday afternoon.
Temple activist Yehuda Glick wrote about the incident on his Facebook page Monday: "In Europe this would be called Antisemitism. Here it is considered to be Extremist Jewish provocation. To what have we come?"
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is Judaism's holiest site, where the First and Second Temples once stood. It is also the site of the Al Aqsa Islamic complex which includes the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, the latter of which is built directly atop the temples' ruins.
Despite its status as Judaism's holiest place, Jews are forbidden by law from praying there or from performing any other religious rituals, due to threats of violence by Muslim groups.
Those religious Jews who do ascend can face arrest and a banning order if caught praying; even when they are not, however, many are often subjected to a campaign of harassment by Islamists, determined to prevent Jews from setting foot there.
Nevertheless, despite the harassment – which sometimes involves physical assaults and rock-throwing – growing numbers of Jews are defying the extremists by peacefully visiting the site.
One poll showed that if anything, the violent campaign was boomeranging, with ever-larger numbers of Jews seeking to ascend the Temple Mount.
Rights campaigners note that according to multiple court orders the measures limiting Jewish prayer rights run contrary to Israel's Basic Law dictating freedom of religion for all, and are lobbying for greater Jewish rights on the Temple Mount.