Four members of the feminist group Women of the Wall were arrested Sunday at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during morning prayers for the new Hebrew month of Elul.
According to the group’s spokesperson, the women were arrested for “behavior that endangers the public peace” and wearing prayer shawls. They will reportedly be banned from the Western Wall plaza for 50 days.
According to spokeswomen Shira Pruce, the Women of the Wall have met once a month for 20 years in the back of the women’s section at the Western Wall. She called the Sunday arrests “unprecedented” and said that “what we did today is nothing new.”
Women of the Wall activists have been arrested several times before for their activities. Most recently, a woman was detained in June for praying with a prayer shawl, and Women of the Wall head Anat Hoffman was arrested in 2010 and fined NIS 5,000 for holding a Torah scroll in the Western Wall plaza.
A 2003 Supreme Court decision prohibited women from wearing prayer shawls or phylacteries, or reading aloud from or holding a Torah scroll, in the main public area of the Western Wall. The same decision provided an alternative location in the archaeological area known as Robinson’s Arch.