Tishrei 28, 5770, 16 October 09
by Gil Ronen
The Organization for Human Rights at the Temple Mount demanded Thursday that the Attorney General launch a criminal investigation against the Commander of Jerusalem District in the Israel Police, Maj.-Gen. Aharon Franco. In addition, the group's leader, Yehudah Glick, wrote a legal letter to Franco demanding that he apologize before legal measures are taken against him. The group accuses Franco of giving interviews in which he slanderously blamed Jews for riots on the Temple Mount.
"I am writing to you in order to direct your attention to severe allegations which were made by you and quoted in your name in the media in recent weeks," Glick's letter said. It went on to quote a statement cited in a column by veteran journalist Nachum Barnea in the October 9 issue of daily Yediot Acharonot, in which Franco said of the Sukkot riots at the Temple Mount that "the ones who started the mess were publicity-hungry right-wing activists."
"The advertisement published by these activists on their website," Franco was quoted as saying, "which called upon multitudes of Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount, gave rise to a cry [by the Muslims] to save Al Aqsa from a Jewish takeover."
"I have gone over all of the websites I know that deal with the Temple Mount and I did not see even one that called upon multitudes of Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount during the last Sukkot holiday, Glick wrote, adding that Franco's allegations constituted defamation.
Glick's organization also wants the AG to investigate whether the police perjured itself in a High Court session regarding a motion to allow Jews to enter the Temple Mount. In that session, on October 8, the police position stated that according to its intelligence reports, letting Jews visit the Mount would pose a risk to public security.
A letter sent by the group's legal adviser, Attorney Aviad Visoly, quotes a report by Barnea which stated the opposite of what the police told the court. "The real drama in Jerusalem this week was not on the ground, where things were rather calm, but in the daily discussions by the police with the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] and the Prosecution. The question was, do we open the Temple Mount to Jews or don't we. The Shin Bet said [it was OK to] open it, [because] there is no intelligence estimate of possible riots in Israel or the Territories [of Judea and Samaria]. Continuing the closure is interpreted as cowardice and as a surrender to the dictates of Sheikh Raad Salah, the great inciter. We must not give him that prize, we must not hurt deterrence," the Shin Bet said, according to Barnea.
"We checked the above specifically with Mr. Barnea, who is a senior and veteran journalist, and he insists that every fact quoted above was true," Visoly added. The police statement before the High Court stating that intelligence estimates pointed to a danger if Jews were allowed onto the Temple Mount was false, he added, and constitutes perjury.