(IsraelNN.com) The Organization for Human Rights in Judea and Samaria has accused Israeli authorities of unfairly and selectively enforcing laws for Jewish and Arab residents of the mixed city of Hevron. For years, visitors arriving at the Cave of the Patriarchs in the holy city have been greeted by Jewish music emanating from loudspeakers atop the Gutnick Center next door to the ancient site. But on Thursday, the music was banned and Ofer Ochana, a resident of nearby Kiryat Arba, was interrogated and threatened by the police.
Following the investigation, Ochana was warned that if he attempted to broadcast music over the speakers again he would be arrested and brought up on charges. From information received by the Hevron Jewish community, this police action was most likely a direct order from the new military commander of the central region, who also reportedly demanded that the police carefully examine the law and find a criminal offense that could be attributed to Ochana. The police discovered several laws relating to noise being broadcast publicly from a business in a residential neighborhood. Ochana, who also directs a store and banquet hall inside the building, was then summoned, interrogated and warned. His speakers were disabled and the music was silenced.
“For years Jewish worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs have complained about the unreasonable and illegal noise of loudspeakers sounding the Muslim calls to prayer into the area assigned exclusively for Jewish worship, and in the Machpela courtyard. There is no need for this because these areas are not used for Muslim prayer (excepting 10 days a year). Two years ago a professional examination was carried out in order to measure the noise level compared to conventional criteria. The results, delivered to the Hevron DCO reported that ‘if the regulations to prevent hazards (unreasonable noise) from 1990 were applied in this case, the noise levels recorded very highly exceed permissible levels.’
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