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After scuffles over gender-segregated prayers on Yom Kippur, Ben Gvir announces Thursday prayer service

Several coalition and Jewish Power members oppose the service as divisive

Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir visits southern Tel Aviv after riots by African migrants, Sept. 3, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

After scuffles broke out at public Yom Kippur services in Tel Aviv over the issue of gender segregation, Jewish Power party chairman and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said he will conduct a public prayer service in the city on Thursday evening.

Ben Gvir, along with other coalition members, have blamed leftists for the fighting at prayer events, which developed after religious Jews set up barriers to separate men and women from praying together.

The city of Tel Aviv has forbidden gender segregation at public events, which was upheld by the High Court.

Ben Gvir, announced a Thursday evening prayer service via a video, where he stated: “I say to those anarchists, we, Jewish Power and I, are coming on Thursday for evening prayers in that same place, and let's see you trying to remove us.”

In the video statement, Ben Gvir invited everyone, secular and religious, to come. “Prayer belongs to everyone. This is a Jewish nation.”

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai sent a letter to Brig.-Gen. Pertz Omer, commander of the Tel Aviv District Police, requesting he make sure no gender separation barriers are placed at Ben Gvir’s prayer event on Thursday.

“The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality allows prayer in public space in the city as it allows other events, as long as they comply with municipal regulations, and in this case in accordance with Municipal Bylaw 896 from 2008 - which does not allow gender separation by physical means,” the letter read.

Fellow Jewish Power member Almog Cohen expressed reservations about holding an event following the disputes over the Yom Kippur prayer services but said that he would be absent for other reasons.

“I am traditional, but I do not pray three times a day, so why should I attend the prayer?” Cohen said. “Also, on Friday, I have a family event and will be absent.”

Knesset Member Yuli Edelstein of the Likud party posted on social media: “On one side Ben Gvir, on the other side Ehud Barak and his messengers. In the middle, a whole people simply fed up with extremism.”

Shas party chairman, Aryeh Deri, also opposed Ben-Gvir's prayer initiative in Dizengoff Square.

"Let them pray in the synagogues; we don't need unnecessary wars and we don't need any other issue," Deri said on a Knesset channel.

Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Simcha Rothman, from the Religious Zionism party, also encouraged Ben Gvir not to hold the prayer meeting.

“Itamar, your intentions are desirable but your actions are not,” Rothman said.

He continued by saying that a counter-provocation would only “lead to the expansion of incitement and hatred and capture a wide public around those extremists.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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