This morning Women in Green filed a petition with the High Court of Justice -
for the Sake of a sovereign Jerusalem May 3rd 2012
Women in Green heads Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar filed this morning a petition against the Israel Police with the High Court of Justice, concerning the Tisha be-Av eve march, a march for which thousands of marchers gather, and which the movement has conducted for eighteen years on a fixed route, in a time-honored practice.
This year, the Israel Police announced that they will not permit the route due to Ramadan, when thousands of Arabs come down from the Temple Mount after prayers in order to break their fast on Sultan Suleiman Street, and the police fear friction. In consequence they demanded that Women in Green find an alternate route that will not pass along Sultan Suleiman Street, Damascus Gate, etc.
As is stated in the petition, for eighteen years there has not been a single incident caused by friction, not even a year ago when Ramadan fell on the same date. If the police fear violence by the Arabs, they should be distanced from the area, and not Jews.
The police's demand severely harms Jerusalem's sovereignty. Jerusalem is the united and undivided capital of Israel and of the Jewish people, and it is inconceivable that Jews will not be allowed to march in it, and especially so on Tisha be-Av eve.
The petition was submitted this morning by Adv. Aviad Hakohen, who represented Women in Green eighteen years ago in its first petition, when then, too, the police tried to prevent the march.
Yehudit Katsover - 050-7161818, Nadia Matar - 050-5500834
Women for Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
The article below is a translation into English of the Hebrew article by Zvi Fein that appeared on Shabbat in the Makor Rishon newspaper
Petition: To Permit the March around the Walls of Jerusalem on Tisha be-Av
Mekor Rishon, May 4, 2012, Tzedek supplement, p. 4
Israel Police refuse to allow the traditional Tisha be-Av march that passes through east Jerusalem due to the fear of disturbance of the public order. Women in Green movement: This is a struggle for Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem
Is the Israeli police trying to prevent a demonstration of Israeli sovereignty in east Jerusalem?
It was made public this past week that this year the commander of the Jerusalem District refuses to allow the participants of the dancing with flags to march through the Muslim Quarter. This week it was learned that the opposition to the holding of events of Jewish content in the eastern part of the city has apparently become the declared policy of the district police, that decided to also forbid the Women in Green movement from conducting the traditional "Tisha be-Av Eve March" around the walls of the Old City.
Eighteen years ago, Michael and Ruth Matar [founders of Women in Green] heard about the ancient practice that had been observed in the Land of Israel hundreds of years ago: a march around the walls of Jerusalem on Tisha be-Av eve, in memory of the destruction of the Temple. The couple were quite enamored with the idea, and together with their daughter-in-law, activist Nadia Matar, they decided to renew the early initiative. Under the aegis of Women in Green, that sponsored the event, they turned to the police to request a permit to conduct the march. But the district commander of the police refused to grant the permit, and claimed that "the route of this march raises the fear, with the level of close certainty, of disturbance of public order and harm to security in general." The matter eventually came before the High Court of Justice, which ruled in favor of conducting the event, slightly changed the route of the march, and imposed limitations on the number of participants.
Thus, in 1994 the Tisha be-Av eve march set out on its way, and already in the first year it drew hundreds of participants, who marched along the walls of the Old City, along Damascus Gate, to the Western Wall plaza. Since then, the march has been held with police approval every Tisha be-Av eve, for seventeen years, without any exceptional events having taken place. Last year, however, in which Tisha be-Av fell in the middle of the month of Ramadan, district [police] officers attempted to persuade the current heads of the movement, Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, to move the usual walking route outside the Old City, so as to not cause friction with the thousands of Muslims leaving evening prayers in the mosques. Katsover and Matar completely refused to change the route, and in the end it was agreed to postpone the time of the march by a few hours, until after the Muslim worshipers would have gone back to their homes.
A few months after the last march had been held, police officers turned an additional time to Matar and Katsover, and informed them that they would not permit the march to be held this coming year in the eastern part of the city, because of what they called "the security tension that was felt during the event." By means of their lawyers, Dean of the Sha'arei Mishpat Academic College Dr. Aviad Hacohen [who had represented Women in Green 18 years ago and won] and Adv. Yeshayahu Avraham, they addressed the head of the Operations Branch of the district, and sought to understand on what basis the police suddenly decided to veer from its regular practice and forbid the march, despite the fact that the event has already been held for seventeen years without any violent incidents.
In its response the police admitted that "over the years, the march has been held without any exceptional events," and that the police has nothing against the Women in Green movement, but the police repeated its demand to change the march route as a condition for holding the event.
As a result of the police position, this week Katsover and Matar decided to petition the High Court of Justice against what they view as a discriminatory policy, that results in harm to Israeli sovereignty in the eastern part of the city. The two argue in the petition that "since the march will be held in only three months, the police cannot decide today, and certainly not four months ago, when the decision was first made, that the holding of the march on the traditional route will endanger public safety and security, on the level of 'close certainty.'" They further argue that diverting the march route to a distant course "harms the practice that has been observed for generations, and will completely uproot its meaning," and that this constitutes "giving a prize to violent elements, and encouraging the sinner to sin."
Katsover and Matar demand that the police reverse its position, and allocate "all the forces necessary to maintain order and the security of the marchers," in order to prevent "any attempt by hostile or violent elements to harm the wellbeing and security of the marchers."
In a talk with Mekor Rishon, Matar and Katsover say that they "view the issue as the struggle of the people of Israel for Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem." According to them, "we are told that Jerusalem is united and undivided, and will never be divided, but if this is so - how is it possible that a group of Jews, and especially so on Tisha be-Av eve, will not be able to observe an ancient practice and march in a part of the city? This is inconceivable."