Court demands answers on failure to protect Women of the Wall
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Court demands answers on failure to protect Women of the Wall

Police, Western Wall rabbi and Western Wall Heritage Foundation have 30 days to explain why they don't remove violent protesters

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Orthodox Jewish men blow whistles as they try to disturb the monthly prayer service of the Women of the Wall at the Western Wall, August 7, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Orthodox Jewish men blow whistles as they try to disturb the monthly prayer service of the Women of the Wall at the Western Wall, August 7, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice on Monday gave police and Western Wall officials 30 days to explain why they are failing to protect female worshipers from harassment at the Jewish holy site in Jerusalem.

The move came in response to a petition filed by the Women of the Wall group that claimed the Israel Police, Western Wall rabbi and Western Wall Heritage Foundation routinely fail to protect female worshipers from “disruptive elements.” The officials must explain why they do not provide security for women praying at the Western Wall plaza and why they do not “take every necessary step” against those attempting to disrupt their prayers.

The group, which holds monthly services at the Western Wall that feature women reading from Torah scrolls, have long complained of harassment and discrimination by the Orthodox bodies governing the site.

Women of the Wall pray with a Torah scroll at their monthly prayer session, October 20, 2017. (Hila Shiloni)

“I hope that the message being delivered to the state is that it needs to remove all disturbing elements from Women of the Wall prayers and ensure Women of the Wall’s constitutional right of ritual at the Western Wall as early as Rosh Hodesh Kislev, this coming Sunday, and Women of the Wall can pray peacefully,” said Riki Shapira Rosenberg, lawyer for Women of the Wall.

The court order came months after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to freeze the implementation of a permanent pluralistic prayer section at the Western Wall, which was approved by government ministers in January 2016.

The cabinet’s decision was met with widespread dismay from liberal groups and Diaspora Jews.

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