Shin Bet: Report of revenge plan was baseless

Israel Security Agency ends probe into rumors of plot to avenge Mercaz Harav murders; Orlev demands apology.

mercaz praying 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
mercaz praying 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
While a prominent Israeli-Arab leader said on Saturday that Jewish extremists are plotting his assassination, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said it had completed a probe into media reports of such plans and has found them baseless. The Shin Bet announcement came hours after Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, told supporters at a rally in Umm el-Fahm that an Arab country had warned him of plans by extreme right-wing Jews to assassinate him. The Shin Bet statement dismissed a report that was broadcast on Channel 1 last week by diplomatic correspondent Ayala Hasson according to which a group of right-wing Jews had received permission from several rabbis to avenge the terrorist attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva on March 6 in Jerusalem in which eight students were killed and nine were wounded. Several days ago, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told National Religious Party MK Zevulun Orlev that neither the police nor the Shin Bet had information concerning such a plot. Security officials explained Saturday that one of the main reasons for issuing the statement was to prevent the defaming of an entire sector in society - the National-Religious camp - as well as Mercaz Harav, whose students were reported to have been involved in the alleged plot. Orlev said, "Whoever is responsible for propagating this wicked blood libel must do some soul searching, admit his mistake and apologize publicly to both the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva and religious Zionism as a whole." According to last week's Channel 1 report, several men - ages 25-35 - met with two prominent rabbis - including one from Mercaz Harav - who permitted retribution for the shooting attack in the yeshiva. The report claimed that the men discussed with the rabbis the possibility of taking revenge against leading Muslim figures associated with the Temple Mount. The report was immediately picked up by several wire services, including The Associated Press - and was reported worldwide under the headline: "Yeshiva graduates plan revenge attack against Arab figure." Gil Hoffman contributed to this report