Yeshiva rabbi arrested over mosque arson
After number of yeshiva students from Yitzhar arrested on suspicions of being involved in torching of mosque, Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva's Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira brought in for investigation by police. Rabbi's lawyer: Client denies any involvement, is not cooperating with police
After yeshiva students arrested on suspicions of being involved in the mosque arson in Yasuf village, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, which is near Yitzhar, was arrested on Tuesday and investigated by Judea and Samaria District Police.
The police are trying to determine what his connection is, if any, to the grave event. The rabbi was transferred to the Shin Bet investigation facilities in Petah Tikva.
Rabbi Shapira's lawyer, Attorney Adi Keidar from the Honenu Organization, said to Ynet, "The rabbi denies any connection to the event and is not cooperating with his investigators."
According to Attorney Keidar, the investigators are tying Shapira to the arson of the mosque. Kidar said that Shapira told the investigators that "in light of the Israel Police's conduct and their treatment of rabbis recently, he is not cooperating with them."
"We see Rabbi Shapira's detention as crossing a red line in terms of the Shin Bet's behavior in general, and in terms of the current affair in particular," said Attorney Keidar.
Dozens of settlers arrived at the Shin Bet facility to support the rabbi. Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said during the rally that the police's conduct was redolent of "dark, oppressive regimes".
Support rally outside Shin Bet facility (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Last week, a number of suspects from Yitzhar were arrested, including some yeshiva students, on suspicions of being involved in torching in the mosque in the nearby Palestinian village, as well as other offenses. Five of them – three minors and two young men from two yeshivas in the area – are still being detained.
Remand of all of the detainees was extended until Thursday, when it will be clarified whether or not an affidavit will be submitted on their behalf prior to the issuance of indictments.
In response to Shapira's arrest, Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said: "I am appalled by the arrest of Rabbi Shapira. I condemn Israel Police, which is behaving in the manner of dark, oppressive regimes. Pouncing on the residents of Yitzhar arouses suspicions of an unrestrained lynch against members of the settlement."
The mosque was set ablaze on December 11. Hebrew slurs were sprayed on the walls that said: "We will burn all of you." The words "price tag" were also scrawled on the walls.
"Price tag" is the slogan adopted some months ago by extremist settlers who carry out reprisals against Palestinians in response to the evacuation of settlement structures by Israeli defense forces.
Clashes broke out between residents of Yasuf and IDF forces stationed near the village. When the villagers left Friday prayers, some of them threw stones at the IDF forces in the village. As a result, a Border Guard officer was lightly wounded. The soldiers fired live fire and tear gas in response. Five Palestinians sustained light injuries as a result.