Rabbi Dov Lior 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Kiryat Arba's Chief Rabbi
Dov Lior was released by police on Monday after he was detained "on
suspicion of publishing material that incites racism." Lior was released
after being questioned for an hour.
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Dozens of young people gathered at the entrance to the city around 4 p.m. and were partially successful in blocking the main entrance to the city on Highway 1. By the time police had dispersed them and reopened Highway 1 to traffic, the crowd had grown to over 200. Simultaneously, about 20 right-wing demonstrators protested outside the Jerusalem police station in the Russian Compound in downtown Jerusalem. Heavy traffic was caused by the demonstrations, and authorities urged motorists to use alternate routes to enter and exit the city, such as Route 443.
Three demonstrators were arrested at a large protest against the arrest
of Lior outside of the Supreme Court that
began around 6:00 pm. Hundreds of demonstrators massed and blocked the intersection outside of
the court. Police arrested one of the demonstrators, and when dozens of
demonstrators tried to grab him away from the security forces, they
arrested two additional demonstrators. Police used cars and water canons to disperse the protesters. The intersection was reopened to traffic at 7pm.
A total of 9 protesters were arrested in demonstrations across the city.
Lior was detained Monday afternoon over his endorsement of the Torat Hamelekh
(King's Torah) book. The arrest was made by the National Serious and International Crimes Unit.
Lior, head of the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Rabbis and
one of the most senior national religious rabbis, was pulled over
while driving on the Tunnel Road connecting Gush Etzion and
Jerusalem and taken to Lod for questioning.
The arrest was met with fury from the religious political community.
In the past, police have accused
Lior of failing to answer calls to appear for questioning. Last year,
one of the two co-authors of the book, Rabbi Yosef Elizur-Hershkowitz,
from Yitzhar was arrested on suspicion of incitement to racial violence,
possession of racist text, and and possession of material that incites
to violence. Elizur-Hershkowitz cooperated with police and was released
soon after his arrest
authored by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur of the Od
Yosef Hai Yeshiva in Yitzhar, advocates killing innocent non-Jews in
certain situations during wartime.
In February, nearly
70 prominent national religious rabbis signed a letter of protest over
the police’s announced intention to arrest Lior if he continued to
ignore their requests to present himself for questioning.
Heads of the some of the leading educational institutions within the
sector – including Rabbi Haim Druckman of Or Etzion, Rabbi David Stav of
Tzohar and the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon and
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed – defended Lior’s ongoing refusal to be
investigated for the rabbinic endorsement (haskama) he gave the book.
Lior and Rabbi Ya’acov
Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, have been
publicly refusing the police summons since last year. Rabbi Yitzhak
Ginsberg of Kfar Chabad, who also endorsed Torat Hamelech,
appeared for police questioning as requested last year and used the
opportunity to explain to police the halachic reasoning behind his
support for the book.
Knesset members from the National Union
were outraged over the arrest. Uri Ariel said on Monday afternoon that
“hunting down rabbis who rule on matters of Jewish law is not the task
of the police and State Attorney's Office.” Michael Ben Ari called for
the dismissal of the public security minister, since police “treat Arab
leaders with kid gloves, while here are disgracing a great rabbi.”
Yaakov Katz called on all yeshiva students, as well as members of the
Knesset, to come to the Russian Compound in Jerusalem later Monday to
protest the “disgrace of the Torah.” Religious Services Minister Yaakov
Margi (Shas) expressed his indignation to Public Security Minister
Yitzhak Aharonovitch. "The rabbi was abducted on his way to Jerusalem
like a common criminal. It would have been appropriate that if the
police want to investigate the rabbi, they could have done so
respectfully," Margi said.
Others joined them in expressing their anger. Heads of the Land of Israel Caucus MK
Zeev Elkin (Likud) and MK Arie Eldad expressed their “shock over
the police's decision to employ detectives to arrest a rabbi in
Israel, as though he were a common criminal, just because of his
halachic stance.” The caucus called for the release of Lior and
that the investigation be called off.