Request for Investigation on the Issue of Violence Toward WOW
on Rosh Hodesh Adar II 2019

I am participating in WOW’s call for a comprehensive investigation regarding the Police’s abandonment of their duties to protect worshippers’ safety in the course of the prayer service on Rosh Hodesh Adar II at the Western Wall, marking WOW’s 30th anniversary.

On March 8, 2019, we arrived to the women’s section of the Western Wall to hold our Rosh Hodesh Adar II prayer service, and to mark thirty years of our organization’s activism.

In the course of the month preceding the prayer service, we turned to the police and notified them that the expected number of attendees exceeded the usual size (approx. 1000), given the context of the special event. We warned the police specifically about publicized calls from ultra-Orthodox rabbis urging young religious students to arrive en masse in order to disrupt WOW’s service. To our great dismay, despite these appeals to the police, our Rosh Hodesh Adar II prayer service was a demonstration of assault against us and women who joined us to support our prayer; harsh physical and verbal harassment were employed against us, all under the observing eyes of the surrounding police officers.

The police officers abandoned us to the mercies of the aggressive bullies who tried at any cost to block our right to prayer freely in our way.

This violence and disruption led to the first time in thirty years, due to serious concerns for human life, we were forced to stop our service and continue it outside the women’s section of the Kotel. It must be noted that we are speaking of our legal right to pray, as defended by the ruling of Judge Sobel (23834-04-13), which formally stated that WOW’s prayer does not oppose “local custom” and does not constitute a transgression of the law.

It was the police’s responsibility to employ all means in their hands to protect us and ensure our rights to pray according to our customs – but this was not done, which presents a serious failure on behalf of the police.

The authority of the Rabbi of the Western Wall, according to the Statutes on Protecting Jewish Holy Sites (1981) does not exempt the authority of the police to protect the peace. The Kotel Rabbi is responsible only for the enforcement of the prohibitions established in the aforementioned statutes. The responsibility for maintaining public peace and order in the Kotel Plaza – just as in the rest of the State of Israel – is incumbent upon the Police of Israel.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan:

Police Commissioner’s Office:

Copy: Dina Zilber, Sec. to Legal Advisor to Govt.‬

Skip to content