Daily Israel Report

Judge Releases Rabbi Shapira of Yitzhar

The rabbi arrested for questioning on the torching of a mosque was forced to meet with his lawyer while blindfolded. Judge castigated the police.
By Hillel Fendel and Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/27/2010, 1:29 PM / Last Update: 1/27/2010, 2:16 PM

Judge Anat Singer of the Jerusalem Magistrates' Court released Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira of Yitzhar and sharply critcized the law enforcement authorities over the way he was treated. "There is not even the beginning of a justification for remanding [the rabbi] into custody," she said at the court proceeding.


The rabbi is brought to court in handcuffs / Flash 90

Rabbi Shapira, Dean of the Od Yosef Chai (Joseph Still Lives) Yeshiva in the Shomron (Samaria), was arrested on Tuesday night, with police insinuating that he may have been involved in the torching of a mosque in Kafr Yassuf, near Tapuach, last month. Rabbi Shapira emphatically denies all involvement in the incident.

Rabbi Shapira’s lawyer, Moti Grossman of the Honenu Civil Rights Organization, said that he met with his client after midnight in the Petach Tikvah police station, and said he was shocked to see the rabbi “with his eyes blindfolded as if he were a terrorist. It was very difficult to see this, especially as he is a respected rabbi.”

"The Shabak (General Security Service) is exerting all sorts of heavy pressure on him," Grossman said. "They didn’t even allow him to keep his tefillin and prayerbook after he finished praying. This is a clear to attempt to pressure someone under interrogation.”

The police announced that Rabbi Shapira would be held overnight, if not longer, and students from his yeshiva arrived at the Petach Tikvah police station in solidarity with their rabbi. They sang and danced to show their support.

Rabbi Shapira lives in the Shomron community of Yitzhar, where several students were arrested in recent overnight raids on similar suspicions.

MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), who took part in the impromptu rally outside the police station, said he was shocked at the rabbi’s arrest. "I condemn the police for its methods,” he said, “which have been taken from the darkest, most oppressive regimes. The agenda of the police against residents of Yitzhar smacks of attempts to conduct a 'lynch' against them.”