Police detained former Likud MK Yehudah Glick for questioning on Saturday night after a man he said was a Palestinian hitchhiker who he was giving a ride to Jerusalem turned out to not have a permit to enter Israel.
Glick, a longtime advocate for Jewish rights on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, was suspected of trying to intentionally smuggle the man from the West Bank, even though the former lawmaker said he was the one who had told Border Police officers at a checkpoint to inspect the papers.
Speaking to Hebrew media, Glick slammed police for their behavior and accused the force of lying about what had happened.
He said he and his wife had spent the weekend in the settlement of Har Gilo and set off to return home at around 10:15 p.m.
Just outside the gates of the settlement, they picked up the hitchhiker who was looking for a ride to Jerusalem.
It was only after they had been traveling for a few minutes that Glick discovered the man was a Palestinian from the nearby village of Walaja. Glick said he then twice asked the man if he had permission to enter Israel, each time being assured the paperwork was in order.
The man, who was “very pleasant,” told Glick that he was traveling to Jerusalem to receive wages from his employer for some refurbishment he had done in the capital.
Speaking to Army Radio, Glick explained that after discovering the man was a Palestinian, since the road to the checkpoint outside Jerusalem was narrow and poorly lit, he decided to not immediately ask him to exit the vehicle but continued to drive him to the crossing.
Glick said that when they arrived at the checkpoint, a journey of less than ten minutes, he insisted a Border Police officer check the Palestinian’s papers.
When the papers were found to be faulty, Glick said he was told to park at the side of the road and his own identity papers were taken away for inspection.
Under Israeli law, a driver found to be transporting an undocumented foreigner can be jailed for up to two years.
After 15 minutes an officer returned and told him that he was being detained, noting that he was aware of who is he, apparently a reference to his past as a lawmaker.
Glick said he then offered to drive himself to the police station for questioning, rather than be taken in a patrol car, and asked for his identity papers back. Instead, he was arrested.
“They forced me out of the car, put me in handcuffs, and forced me into a patrol car,” he told the Kan public broadcaster.
After he was already handcuffed, police put his identity papers back into one of his pockets, he said.
He rejected a police claim that he had not cooperated, saying that he had behaved like an “exemplary citizen” and “the police are lying.”
“I said to the officer ‘bring me my identification papers and I will be happy to join you.’ Is that being unruly? The claims against me are ridiculous,” he said.
Glick recounted that he was questioned after 1 a.m. in the morning at a Border Police base in Atarot and then eventually released at 2:30 a.m. on a NIS 5,000 ($1,520) bail.
He said there was no consideration for how he was supposed to get home from the base, which is not in a built-up area. However, his wife had been waiting for him outside with the car.
Glick called on police to apologize for what he said was unacceptable behavior, including the force apparently issuing a statement to the press that he had been arrested before he was even released.
Border Police said in a statement that officers had “stopped a car” with a passenger sitting in the back at the crossing point. During a check it was found that the passenger did not have a permit to enter Israel, the statement said.
“When the troops informed the driver that he was being detained he became unruly and refused to be detained,” the statement said.
The driver and the passenger were both taken away for questioning and the driver was released on bail. The unauthorized Palestinian was taken to Ofer prison, Border Police said.
Glick’s wife, Hadas, told Hebrew media that an officer had told Glick he should have let the man out of the car before the checkpoint so that he would have instead approached it on foot.
She confirmed that at the checkpoint, the officer initially told them they could continue, but Glick requested that the hitchhiker’s documents be inspected.
Glick, 55, a United States-born religious Zionist, was a lawmaker for the ruling Likud party from 2016 to 2019. He was elected as the representative of West Bank settlements, but quickly proved to be open to many opinions and sectors, which made him a relatively popular figure, especially outside Likud ranks.
Saturday’s incident was far from his first run-in with the law. Glick gained prominence through decades of struggles for Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. It is also the third-holiest site for Muslims, who refer to it as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary. Jews are currently allowed to visit the site — during limited hours, on a predetermined route and with heavy restrictions — but not pray or display religious or Israeli national symbols.
Glick has often visited the Temple Mount, protested near it, launched hunger strikes and quarreled with police and law enforcement bodies. He has been barred from the site for weeks or months at a time.
He says he seeks Jewish-Muslim coexistence at the site, without limiting Muslim entry or prayer.
He is nevertheless viewed as an extremist by many Palestinians, and incitement against him almost cost him his life in 2014 at the hands of a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, who shot him at close range following a conference in Jerusalem. Glick was critically injured but made an unlikely full recovery.
He was again assaulted last year while paying a condolence visit to the East Jerusalem home of the family of Iyad Halak, a disabled Palestinian man shot dead by Border Police officers who say they mistook him for an attacker.