Equal Prayer Rights Protest at Western Wall Turns Violent

Fights broke out at the Western Wall over the failure to allow Jews of all denominations and genders the right to pray together at this significant spot.

After over three years of negotiations and delays, Israeli authorities finally agreed in January to provide an egalitarian prayer space at the famous Western Wall. However, since then, nothing has been done, causing many to blame the authorities to make false promises in the hope that the issue will simply go away on its own.

On Wednesday morning, several hundred demonstrators descended on the site and brought their own Torah scrolls despite the sites regulations. The demonstrators were met by security officials and some Orthodox men and fights broke out as they tried to take the Torah scrolls.

In the wake of the violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on non-Israeli Jews to show “patience and tolerance,” towards the issue. However, Netanyahu himself has come under fire from the protesters, who accuse him of being largely responsible for the failure to provide equal prayer rights. He struck back by accusing the protestors of “a unilateral violation” of existing agreements on Jewish prayer arrangements.

While a 900-square meter area at the southern end of the wall was intended for a multimillion dollar project to create an equal prayer space, work is yet to proceed on it, and in the meantime, Orthodox groups have seized control of it, using it for “demonstrative,” segregated prayers.

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