In an Exceptional Step

Israel Police Orders Temple Mount Activist Out of Jerusalem

Dov Morel of 'Return to the Mount' movement must stay out of capital for six months.

Reuters

In an exceptional move, the Israel Police have issued a restraining order requiring that a right-wing activist who has advocated a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount stay out of the city for some six months.

The order, served Sunday morning on 21-year-old Dov Morel, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Talmon, was issued by the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command. It also bars Morel from having contact with Temple Mount activists from other organizations. Morel is a leading activist with “Return to the Mount,” members of which are identified with the far-right Kach movement founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane

The organization recently announced that it would pay a monetary reward for any Jew arrested while trying to pray on the mount. The Temple Mount, which is considered holy to Jews and Muslims, has been a flashpoint in the recent violence in the country.

In the past, the police have in fact issued restraining orders barring individuals from entering the Temple Mount, but an order prohibiting an individual activist from the entire city of Jerusalem is thought to be rare. The order issued to Morel expires on the eve of Passover next year, a matter of hours after the time in which Temple Mount activists in prior years have clashed with the police over carrying out a Passover animal sacrifice at the site.

The right-wing legal assistance group Honenu, which is representing Morel, said he tore up the restraining order in front of the police and has already violated it.

“We condemn the issuing of an administrative order without a trial and without reasoning in a step that seriously infringes on the rights of Dov Morel,” the organization said in statement. “Only last week, it was disclosed that a Muslim sheikh continues to incite [people to] harm Jews on the Temple Mount without hindrance, which in the view of the major general of the Home Front Command apparently doesn’t meet the definition of ‘harming public order,’ and now we are seeing what the defense establishment is busy with: issuing restraining orders to Jews working openly and legally on behalf of the Temple Mount.”

For its part, “Return to the Mount” condemned the restraining order, calling it a “red line in the battle against Temple activists” and a “declaration of war.”