(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas's annual Passover rally became the first casualty of the corruption investigation of its leader Arye Deri Tuesday when the party announced that this year's event was cancelled.
Deri has asked his followers to refrain from starting a campaign professing his innocence similar to the one that accompanied his unsuccessful effort to avoid jail time the last time he was investigated.
The rally had been set to take place at the Jerusalem Payis Arena, which seats 15,654 people for concerts and 11,600 for basketball games. In the past, Shas had no problem filling facilities of that size.
Billed "Greet the Rabbis," the event was intended to showcase Rabbi Shalom Cohen, who became the head of the Shas council of Torah sages following the death of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in October 2013.
But party officials were concerned the event would either become too much of a protest rally that could harm Deri's case or have an embarrassingly poor turnout, which could present the party as in peril.
Deri is expected to be called in for questioning as early as this week in the investigation that centers on the multiple properties owned by him and members of his family in Jerusalem and the Galilee.
The initial probe of Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog on alleged campaign fundraising violations is also expected to advanced in upcoming days.
reported Tuesday that police had found new evidence in recent weeks proving that Herzog had broken the law. He has vigorously denied the allegations.