Yitzhar Rabbi (Finally) Released

Judge Yoram Noam determines: No evidence that Rabbi Shapira was involved in setting carpet on fire in Kafr Yasouf mosque.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 19:31

Rabbi Shapira brought to court Wednesday
Rabbi Shapira brought to court Wednesday
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira, dean of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, was released Thursday from detention, two days after he was arrested and one day after a Magistrates' Court judge ordered him freed. The prosecution had appealed the Magistrates' Court decision and the rabbi had to stay in jail for a second night Wednesday. On Thursday, District Court Judge Yoram Noam decided to uphold the Magistrates' Court ruling and to let the rabbi go free.

Judge Noam determined that there was no evidence showing that the rabbi was complicit in the vandalizing of a mosque in Kafr Yasouf , an Arab village in Samaria, on December 11. The vandalization involved some spray painted messages and a rug that was set on fire.  

"After examining all of the [evidence] material I reached the conclusion that it does not have enough substance to support a reasonable suspicion that the defendant carried out the offense of arson which is attributed to him,” the judge wrote. “The classified material from the Shin Bet also contained a qualification regarding the question of the defendant's involvement in the actual arson. The police investigators, too, thought that there was no reasonable suspicion that the defendant was involved in the arson.”

A 180 degree turn
Representatives of the Shin Bet and prosecution told the court Thursday that they do believe the rabbi was involved in the arson itself, and not just in knowing about it. Judge Noam replied and said: “You are turning the case around by 180 degrees. This goes against everything that you claimed before the Magistrates' Court.”

Rabbi Shapira's lawyer, Attorney Naftali Wirzberger, harshly criticized the prosecution and Shin Bet. “The zeal of the Shin Bet and prosecution to keep Rabbi Shapira under arrest is very impressive and one can only wonder at the motives for this,” he said. “I cannot understand why they continue to make fools of themselves in front of the courts. I am sorry to say that the settlers' claims regarding intentional persecution by the prosecution and Shin Bet are buttressed by their behavior in this case.”

MK Ya'akov (Ketzaleh) Katz, Chairman of the National Union, called Thursday for the disbanding of the Jewish Affairs section of the Shin Bet, following the release of Rabbi Shapira. Katz said that the activities of the unit were "disproportional" and had one goal: "to give the residents of Yesha (Judea and Samaria) a bad name, to clear the ground for the criminal idea of the final expulsion of all the Jews of Yesha."

Similar sentiments were expressed by the Rabbinical Council of Yesha and Chairman Gershon Mesika of the Samaria Regional Council.