A rabbi detained by police just outside the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day has been released without charge, after a judge ruled there was no evidence to support police accusations.
The rabbi – who heads a women's midrasha Torah college – was one of two people arrested yesterday (Sunday). The second individual was arrested for saying "amen" on the Mount, where Jews are forbidden from uttering words of prayer despite it being Judaism's holiest site, out of fear of "offending" Muslim worshipers at the nearby Al Aqsa Mosque.
Police had arrested the rabbi after he challenged an Arab-Israeli police officer who pushed a group of Jews who were dancing and singing in honor of Jerusalem Day at the Chain Gate to the Temple Mount.
Witnesses described how the 57-year-old rabbi was then himself shoved roughly and arrested by officers, who later accused him – apparently falsely – that he had hit them.
The rabbi insisted that in fact it was he who had been struck by the officer, and in an act of protest refused to answer any further questions posed by officers. In response, police said they would hold him in a cell overnight until a morning court hearing – to the fury of the man's lawyers.
Attorneys from the Honenu legal rights organization submitted an appeal against the arrest, which was accepted after the judge was also shown video of the incident filmed by members of the Jewish group initially confronted by the officer.
Damningly, the judge told police the footage directly contradicted their version of events, and added that had he seen the footage beforehand he would have ordered them to release him even prior to the hearing.
"The film shows that the respondent stood at the front of the group and was lightly struck by the officer for no reason, despite the fact that (the incident took place in) a crowded ally where people were shoving and shouting at each other," the judge said.
Attorney Avichai Hajabi of Honenu noted that had the incident not been filmed by quick-thinking bystanders, his client may well have been wrongly detained and dragged through a lengthy legal process.
"A picture is worth a thousand words," he remarked.