Ancient synagogue in Jericho
Photo: GPO

35 rightists arrested in Jericho

MK Ben Ari leads march past IDF checkpoints to hang Israeli flag from top of West Bank synagogue

The IDF and Border Guard arrested Sunday 35 right-wing activists who broke through IDF checkpoints in the West Bank and locked themselves inside a synagogue in Jericho.


The activists lay down on the floor and had to be lifted manually into a bus that took them to the nearest police station. Two of the detainees are women, and there are also a number of minors who refused to identify themselves. 


The activists said they had planned to continue to the city's ancient synagogue, but were halted by security forces.


Israelis are prohibited entry into Palestinian Authority territories by IDF orders.


MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union), Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Baruch Marzel led the group into the West Bank. 


"The Oslo Accords are dead, and we will not allow an enemy state to be established here in Israel," Ben Ari said of the march.


Meir Bertler, who took part in the march, told Ynet from within the synagogue, "At the top of the structure we hung an Israeli flag... We have announced the renewal of our Jewish presence here and our intention to stay."


Earlier the activists arrived at an IDF checkpoint leading to Jericho, and were told that they could not enter the city because they had not coordinated with the army.


After a few hours of waiting the activists broke through the checkpoint by force, overpowering the soldiers there, and the latter gave chase after them.


The head of the Civil Administration, Brigadier-General Yoav ("Poli") Mordechai, appealed to Palestinian security forces with a request to leave the rightists alone and not to surround them, as the IDF conducted a search throughout Jericho.


The ancient synagogue in Jericho, called Shalom Al Yisrael, was torched in the first days of the intifada and burned to the ground. All of the holy books inside were destroyed, as well as the computers.


In recent years the Palestinian Authority has renovated the site and Jews are sometimes given special permission to pray there, accompanied by IDF forces.


Earlier the government approved a comprehensive plan to preserve heritage sites across the country. Following pressure from a number of ministers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added two sites to the plan: Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.


Right-wing elements rushed to welcome the decision to add the controversial sites to the national heritage plan. "This is another symbol of the people of Israel's connection to these areas, which cannot be cut off," said Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union) during a tour of the Cave of the Patriarchs with the Land of Israel Lobby.


Yesha Council Chairman Dannu Dayan added, "A morning which began with a struggle ended with a blessing. This is a significant historic accomplishment for the Jewish people."


פרסום ראשון: 02.21.10, 19:14
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