Elul 26, 5771, 25/09/11
by Gil Ronen
Yosef Hacohen felt ill on Temple Mount, sipped water but said a blessing before drinking it, making Muslims angry. Police arrested him.
Temple Mount Police arrested a 76-year-old Jewish man Sunday after he recited a blessing before drinking some water. Yosef Hacohen felt ill during a tour of the Temple Mount and wanted to take a sip from a water bottle. As another member of the group he was a part of supported him, he recited the "shehakol" blessing that precedes drinking of beverages.
This aroused the ire of three Muslim Wakf men who had been following the 30-member group of which Hacohen was a participant.
In response to the Muslims' demands, the two policemen who also followed the group took Hacohen out of the group. This led to a small fracas. A higher ranking police officer arrived on the scene and decided to arrest Hacohen "on suspicion of reciting the Priestly blessing." He was detained for questioning.
Hacohen is the son of the late Rav Masoud Hacohen, a very well known religious judge (dayan) and decisor (posek) from North Africa.
The group, from the Kiryat Hana Synagogue and the Klal Yofi synagogue in Jerusalem, was led by Rav Menachem Shouraki. A Muslim man tried to provoke Shouraki during the tour and told him: "[Hamas leader] Ismail Haniyeh will send rockets at you and [Iranian leader Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad will finish you off. This is your end."
An organizer of the tour said the Wakf men appeared particularly on edge, two days after a U.N. speech by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The purpose of the arrest, he said, "was to appease the Wakf men whose anti-Semitic hatred does not allow them to hear a Jew reciting a blessing."