Netz Minyan Attendees at the Kosel: Police Unfairly Ticketing Us

YERUSHALAYIM -
Shacharis at the netz at the Kosel. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Mispallelim of the netz minyan at the Kosel were astounded, and angered, to discover that a long-standing arrangement whereby they have been allowed to park their vehicles outside the Old City walls in the area of Dung Gate has apparently been canceled by police. Mispallelim, who for years had parked in this manner, returned to their vehicles this week to find parking tickets, the Kol Hazman news site reported. “This is a slap in the face,” one of the about 1,000 “regulars” at the Kosel told the site. “We aren’t tourists; we are here to daven and keep up a Jewish presence in this area.”

Even more galling, the mispallelim said, was the fact that the measure apparently did not apply to Arabs who came to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Har HaBayis for early morning services. “We Jews all park in one area, near the Old City walls, while the Arabs park on the other side of the street and on side streets, also illegally. Yet only our vehicles have been ticketed. Police have left them alone.”

While some drivers found tickets on their windshields, others found warning leaflets from police advising them that they were being warned that tickets were now to be distributed. “This is very bad for those who attend the early minyan, said one mispallel. “Anyone who wants to come to the Kosel now will have to park much farther afield, and Arabs will apparently take our parking places, while we have to pay for parking and walk for many blocks.”

In a statement, police said that the move was being undertaken in cooperation with Harav Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rav of the Kosel. “We in no way seek to negatively impact the attendance of anyone who wishes to daven at the Kosel.” The move was being undertaken for safety reasons, in order to keep the roads near the entrance to the Dung Gate clear.

When approached, Harav Rabinowitz said he was not aware of the new orders. In a statement, his office said that “Harav Rabinowitz was as surprised as those who attend the netz minyan about this new order. Police did not inform him or the Kosel Heritage Fund about this rule change. Police said that they did not intend to target all vehicles, but only those that parked in a manner that endangered traffic, and on sidewalks next to bus stops. We are in contact with municipality officials to discuss this.”