Israel’s High Court of Justice permits the discrimination on Har Habayis to continue. Court President Justice Esther Hayut, Vice-President Justice Hanan Meltzer and Judge Neil Hendel rejected a petition recently by the heads of Otzma Yehudit, Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel, attorney Itamar Ben-Givir and Rabbi Bentzi Gupstein, against the discriminatory policy regarding inspections at the gates of Har Habayis.
In July 2017, the government reneged on its intention to install magnetometers at the gates of Har Habayis and permitted the inspection machine only at the Mughrabi Gate, the route used by Jews and other non-Muslims entering the holy site. Attorney Itamar Ben-Givir claimed that the situation created unlawfully violates the principle of equality in Jewish visitors and tourists visiting the Har Habayis as Muslims are not required to pass a magnetometer as part of the process of entering the site.
Ben-Givir pointed out to the court that the history of Har Habayis shows that it is the Muslims who perpetrated the attacks, and now the Jews are forced to undergo an inspection using the device, while the entry of the Muslims is without any examination.
Representing the state, attorney Dr. Yuval Roitman argued that the police have broad discretion and that this is a security need. During the hearing, Attorney Ben-Givir responded that in countless decisions the High Court of Justice decided to prefer the principle of equality over security considerations, stating when the issue of separate roads for Jews and Arabs at the airport for security needs was challenged; roadblocks and inspections; the High Court justice annulled the security decisions and determined that the principle of equality is a constitutional principle of the highest order, and the violation of equality is the most serious of all.
On Wednesday morning, 29 Marcheshvan, the High Court justices decided to reject the petition. In her decision, Justice Hayut wrote, “The petitioners believe that the decision to remove the magnetometers from the eight entrance gates created a violation of the equality between Jewish visitors and Muslim visitors,” she said. She added, “There is indeed a difference in the means of inspection, but after we heard detailed explanations from police and security sources, we were convinced that this was justified”. President Hayut further states that “It should be remembered that the right to pray and worship of the Jewish worshipers who enter through the Mughrabi Gate is not harmed, and the petitioners did not claim that, as the various inspection arrangements do not prevent Jews from entering the area and the distinction in the inspection methods is justified in maintaining security and ensuring the order of the visitors to the compound. Therefore, we believe that despite the difference in the means of inspection at various gates, discretion is exercised by the police, and we find no cause to intervene in it”.
Otzma Yehudit Chairman Dr. Michael Ben-Ari responded: “If we were dealing with discrimination against Arabs, the judges of the Supreme Court would come out in their pajamas to issue orders, and the discrimination between Arabs and Jews not only takes place on Har Habayis but also in court. It very unfortunate that judges who preach every morning and evening about the importance of the principle of equality are deficient themselves and make decisions that relate to racism and distinguish between Jews and Arabs”.
YWN NOTES: Gedolei Yisrael over the generations and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel prohibit visiting Har Habayis, which they explain carries the punishment of karess.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)