On August 19, 2012, police arrested and detained four participants of Women of the Wall during the monthly service at the Western Wall (Kotel). The women are being accused of two offenses: Disturbing the public peace according to regulation 201 A4 of the Israeli legal code, the punishment for which is six months in prison, and the violation of regulation 287A by performing a religious act that “offends the feelings of others.” The punishment for the second crime is up to two years in prison.
On the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Fitr and the Jewish new month of Elul while Jerusalem’s Old City and its holy sites were busy and chaotic, Israeli Police chose to become “fashion police”, by arresting four women who wore tradition Jewish prayer shawls (white with black or blue stripes, commonly and traditionally associated as male). The Women of the Wall were arrested mid-prayer and stood amongst dozens of women who wore colorful prayer shawls and were left alone by police.
This morning’s arrests serve as an escalation and continuation of the wave of women’s exclusion with in the public sphere, a struggle which started at the Western Wall and has spread all over Israel. Anat Hoffman, Women of the Wall Chairwoman said, “The time has come to reclaim and liberate the Kotel from the grasp of a handful of Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) extremists who, with the cooperation of the Israeli authorities, exclude the majority of Israelis and Jews from the Western Wall.”
For over twenty years Women of the Wall has continued to fight for religious freedom and women’s rights at the Western Wall. As Women of the Wall, our central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.
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