Arrested for request to read the Book of Esther in ancient Gaza synagogue

Mosaic, ancient synagogue in Gaza; Photo credit: Dr. Avishai Teicher

Monday, March 25, 2024, 12:25 Several days ago, a right-wing activist working toward the rebuilding of Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip filed a request with the Israel Police to read Megilat Esther (the Book of Esther) in the ancient synagogue of Gaza on Purim. Representatives of the police who spoke to the activist on their own initiative attempted to dissuade him from his intent and assured him he would receive an official reply from the IDF. However, the activist did not receive an official reply. Yesterday (Sunday), he was detained by police detectives in the Maḥaneh Yehuda open-air market in Jerusalem. From there, he was taken in for interrogation at the Sederot Police Station and arrested. During his interrogation, police officers informed him he was arrested for the crimes of violating a legal provision, entering a closed military zone, and disturbing public order. The activist was detained at a Purim celebration and had violated no order or legal provision. A hearing was scheduled for tomorrow at the Ashkelon Magistrates Court at the request of the police to extend his remand. Honenu Attorney Daniel Shimshilashvili is representing the activist.

Honenu Attorney Daniel Shimshilashvili stated, “The Israel Police sent their best forces to arrest my client while he was celebrating at a Purim party, in a humiliating manner, in full view of everyone, as if he were a hardened criminal. My client filed a request with the police in a completely transparent manner. Nonetheless, the police arrested him and took him a long distance to the Sederot Police Station. Needless to say, my client had violated no law. He merely requested a permit for an action which he did not carry out. The ‘Thought Police’ are out in full force. It is sad to see that instead of allowing Israelis to celebrate Purim, especially considering the national mood this year, the police are persecuting a right-wing activist for no reason. I am absolutely certain that the court will immediately release my client.”

The Hozrim HaBayta (Returning Home) organization, which is actively promoting the reestablishment of Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip added, “While left-wing activists on Kaplan [referring to the anti-judicial reform protests being held on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv] are burning tires and blocking streets unhindered, on the pro-Jewish side of the map, a man was arrested for filing a request to read Megilat Esther in the ancient synagogue of Gaza, and was threatened with administrative detention. The activist was arrested only because he insisted on receiving an official reply, which for an inexplicable reason the police adamantly refused to give, although legally they must reply on the government website. This time, the Jewish People are determined to genuinely win, gain control of, and settle the Gaza Strip.”

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