Joked About Police Paranoia on Temple Mount and Was Arrested
Breach of free speech, freedom of worship, as youth arrested over Facebook post joking his prayers will ‘set Middle East on fire.’
A young Temple Mount activist was arrested on Tuesday night after joking on Facebook about the paranoia of the government and the police regarding the Temple Mount, where they have allowed the Jordanian Waqf to maintain control and forbid Jewish prayer.
In his Facebook post, he wrote that he intended to ascend to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, for the Lag B’Omer holiday starting Wednesday night, and made fun of the police for their fear that Jews visiting the site will “set the Middle East on fire.”
Under the tag “#TheTempleMountIsn’tInOurHands,” he wrote, “on Lag B’Omer I will light a bonfire in my own way, I’ll ascend the Temple Mount.” By doing so, he joked he will “light up the Middle East in flames!,” making fun of the phrasing used by the prime minister and police in warning Jews not to pray at the site.
Evidently the jesting over police fears was on target – 15 officers dressed in civilian clothes entered a yeshiva Torah learning institution in Jerusalem on Tuesday night and grabbed the youth from where he was studying, without presenting an arrest warrant despite being requested to do so by the students.
In investigation the youth was interrogated about the status that he wrote on Facebook.
While police may not have understood the post to be a joke over their seeming paranoia regarding the Temple Mount, many of the youth’s friends responded on Facebook to his comment with laughter and amusement at what they clearly viewed as a joke.
One friend of his even wrote “if you pray that will only light up a small bonfire, for a large bonfire you need to prostrate yourself (in prayer – ed.).”
Another friend suggested he erase the status, warning “for things less than this the police have already had people sit for months in administrative arrests.” In response to the arrest, his friends argue that the police crackdown will only radicalize the issue.
“Condition” not to visit the Mount
A quick investigation was conducted by police at the station, at the end of which the police offered the youth to be released on condition of agreeing to distance himself from the Temple Mount.
The youth refused the condition, and asked for the offer to be brought before a judge so as to highlight how the condition breaches free speech and freedom of worship which are enshrined in Israeli law.
In response, the police decided to extend his detention for another 24 hours.
The Joint HQ of Temple Mount Organizations strongly condemned the arrest, assessing the youth was likely detained as part of a new effort to placate the Jordanian government’s backlash after several female Muslim rioters recently were arrested on the Temple Mount for abusing police and visitors.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has promised Jordan and the EU he won’t allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, despite the fact that Israeli law ensures the freedom of worship and access to holy sites for all.
Israel has left the Mount under de facto control of the Jordanian Waqf ever since liberating the site in the 1967 Six Day War.
Aside from forbidding Jewish prayer and allowing Muslim riots, the Waqf has been destroying archaeological evidence at the site proving its Jewish nature.