Women of the Wall petition Supreme Court for right to pray undisturbed
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Women of the Wall petition Supreme Court for right to pray undisturbed

Petition accuses police of indifference in face of verbal and physical badgering from ultra-Orthodox protesters

Members of the Women of the Wall movement hold a monthly prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, February 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Members of the Women of the Wall movement hold a monthly prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, February 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Women of the Wall filed a petition with Israel’s Supreme Court demanding the right to pray undisturbed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The petition, filed Tuesday against the Israel Police, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and the Western Wall’s rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitz, also asked the court to order the police to ensure that the women are safe from physical and verbal violence while praying at the holy site.

It requested a temporary injunction requiring the respondents to explain their failure to ensure the legal rights of the Women of the Wall to pray in the women’s section of the site without disturbance, according to a statement from the organization. The petition also demanded an explanation for the respondents’ failure to implement the necessary measures to halt those who regularly attempt to disrupt their prayer services with physical and verbal violence.

Women of the Wall said in a statement that during monthly prayer services, its members are exposed to “curses, incitement, spitting, ear-piercing whistling, intense and continuous shouting and bottles thrown at them. Despite this egregious conduct, including criminal offenses, their repeated pleas for protection are met with indifference by Israel Police and by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s ushers and guards.”

Ultra Orthodox men protest against the Women of the Wall movement as they hold a monthly prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, February 27, 2017. )Hadas Parush/Flash90(
Ultra Orthodox men protest against the Women of the Wall movement as they hold a monthly prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, February 27, 2017. )Hadas Parush/Flash90(

In January, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of women being allowed to read from the Torah in the women’s section at the Western Wall and declared that an egalitarian prayer area set aside at nearby Robinson’s Arch does not constitute access to the holy site.

The January ruling was in response to a petition by the Original Women of the Wall, a breakoff of the Women of the Wall group, who want to pray in the women’s section and reject a compromise, still to be implemented, that would expand an alternative prayer space at Robinson’s Arch.

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