Israel to Compensate Far-rightist Gopstein for Illegal Search

Bentzi Gopstein and two colleagues from the group Lehava were arrested after calling out the start of a Hebrew prayer on the Temple Mount.

Bentzi Gopstein outside a police station, Feb. 25, 2016.
Emil Salman

The police and the prison service will pay 30,000 shekels ($7,950) in damages to Lehava leader Bentzi Gopstein and two others in the far-right group for an illegal search after the three were arrested on the Temple Mount in 2013.

The compensation was agreed to in an out-of-court settlement with the State Prosecutor’s Office.

In October 2013, Gopstein and several other activists entered the Mount, waved Israeli flags and called out “Shema Yisrael” – “Hear O Israel” – a central prayer in Judaism. The search took place once the three were in detention.

Jews are allowed to visit Jerusalem's Temple Mount at certain times, but are forbidden from praying, reciting blessings or tearing their shirts – a custom of mourning. Muslims know the Mount as the Noble Sanctuary.

Atorney Itamar Ben-Gvir filed a lawsuit against the police and the prison service, claiming false arrest and an illegal search.

“In an age where civil rights are exalted,” there is no room for such a search procedure, Ben-Gvir said.

“Balance is needed. Such a search should only be done when it is truly required, as in the case of a drug dealer, for example, but it shouldn’t be used to degrade political activists arrested due to prayers or protests.”