The Jerusalem Magistrate Court ruled on Monday that it is permitted for visitors to the Har Habayis to yell out “Am Yisrael Chai” because it is a patriotic declaration, rather than a prayer.
Monday’s court ruling is in the case of Israeli nationalist activist and attorney Itamar Ben Gvir, who in 2015 was ousted from the Har Habayis by police and detained for hours after shouting “Am Yisrael Chai!” during a visit to the site. At the time, Ben Gvir, who was touring with a group of Jews, was accosted by a Muslim woman who yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the greatest”) at them. When he shouted back “Am Yisrael Chai” at her, he was immediately taken into custody by police, who told him he broke the law.
When Ben Gvir sued for wrongful detention the judge found in his favor, stating that “during the tour and afterward, cries of ‘Allah is the greatest’ were heard, and there is nothing wrong with saying ‘the nation of Israel lives.’”
The judge agreued that Ben Gvir’s detention was baseless and criticized the police for taking no action against the Mslim woman who provoked him, telling him to “go away, you dog.”
“I believe that the time has come for the courts to rule that Jews are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, just as Muslims are permitted to pray at the site,” he said. “There can be no wrongful discrimination at the most important site for the people of Israel.”