Police arrested former Likud MK Yehudah Glick for questioning on Saturday night after a man he said was a Palestinian hitchhiker he was transporting to Jerusalem was found not to have proper documents to enter Israel.
Glick, a longtime advocate for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, was suspected of deliberately smuggling the man from the West Bank, though the former lawmaker said it was he who told border police at a checkpoint to inspect the papers.
Glick’s wife, Hadas, said the couple spent the weekend in the Har Gilo settlement.
When they returned, they met a man who said he was from the nearby Palestinian village of Walaja and asked for a ride to the Malha neighborhood in Jerusalem. Hadas Glick told Hebrew media that the man told them he had the necessary documents.
She said the officer at the checkpoint initially told them they could proceed, but Glick asked to inspect the validity of the hitchhiker’s documents.
When it turned out that the papers were not in order, the officer turned to Glick, arguing that by law he should have let the man out of the car before the checkpoint so he would have approached him on foot instead.
Under Israeli law, a driver who transports an undocumented foreigner can face up to two years in prison.
The officer told Glick to get into a nearby police vehicle. When he refused, officers handcuffed him and took him for questioning at a border police base in Atarot.
After several hours, he was released on NIS 5,000 ($1,520) bail. The Palestinian man was taken to a detention center in Ofer prison.
“It’s a really terrible feeling,” Hadas said. “We acted as any human would.”
Glick recently fought to become Israel’s president, trying and failing to gain enough support among the 120 Knesset members, who eventually elected Isaac Herzog who took office last week.
Glick, 55, a United States-born religious Zionist, served as a legislator for the ruling Likud party from 2016 to 2019. He was chosen to represent the West Bank settlements, but soon proved open to many opinions and sectors, making him a relatively popular figure, especially outside the Likud ranks.
Saturday’s incident was far from his first confrontation with the law. Glick came to prominence through decades of fighting for Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. It is also the third holiest site for Muslims, who refer to it as the Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Noble Shrine and many of whom reject the idea that it is sacred to Jews. Jews are currently allowed to visit the site – during limited hours, on a predetermined route and with severe restrictions – but not pray or display religious or Israeli national symbols.
Glick has frequently visited the Temple Mount, protesting near it, launching hunger strikes and arguing with police and law enforcement agencies. He is often banned from the site for weeks or months.
He says he aims for Jewish-Muslim coexistence at the site, without restricting Muslim access or prayer.
Yet he is considered an extremist by many Palestinians, and inciting him nearly cost him his life in 2014 at the hands of a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, who shot him at close range after a conference in Jerusalem. Glick was seriously injured but made an unlikely full recovery.
Last year, he was attacked again while paying a condolence visit to the home in East Jerusalem of the family of Iyad Halak, a disabled Palestinian man who was shot dead by border police officers who say they mistook him for an attacker.