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Prominent Samaria Rabbis Refuse Police Summons Without Cause

Prominent Samaria rabbis refuse to show for questioning after police use 'scare tactics' and do not provide reason for summons.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 12/12/2010, 10:45 PM / Last Update: 12/13/2010, 7:54 AM

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Police have summoned three prominent Samaria rabbis to questioning, without specifying the subject of the interrogation. The rabbis have refused the summons over what they term “scare tactics,” and say they will come only if police follow proper procedure.

The rabbis were identified as Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, head of the Elon Moreh yeshiva, who was recently named the chief rabbi of the Samaria region, Rabbi David Dudkewitz, rabbi of Yitzhar and the head of the regional kollel, and Rabbi Yehoshua Schmidt, the head of the Shavei Shomron yeshiva and a member of the secretariat of the Samaria Rabbinical Council.

The three were summoned be questioned daily at the police station in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. The initial investigation raised concern, as the summons was for consecutive questioning, did not include a subject of questioning, and called the rabbis to a station that does not belong to the Samaria district.

Previously, rabbis have been summoned for questioning over matters pertaining to Jewish law. Hundreds of rabbis met in Jerusalem in August to protest police summons handed out to rabbis over the book The Torah of the King (Torat HaMelekh). Police questioned rabbis over the book, written by Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira, which contains interpretations of Jewish law pertaining to the use of force when dealing with enemies.

Soon after the recent summons was sent out, a junior police office allegedly called one of the rabbis and threatened him. A secretary in a second rabbi's office reported receiving a similar call.

Following the calls, the three rabbis spoke and decided not to turn up at the questioning until police give more information.

"We, the undersigned, three settlement rabbis and heads of yeshivot, have received a summons to an investigation at a Jerusalem police station. We were surprised to receive the summons, signed by a sergeant, stating that we are summoned to an 'interrogation' without providing any details about the matter referred to,” the three said in a letter written to the commander of police investigations.

“Our door is open to every investigator who comes to our offices or our homes and describes what he is interested in investigating us about,” they added.

Gershon Mesika, head of the Samaria Regional Council, raised the matter with Minister of Internal Security Yitzchak Aharonovich. “I was surprised to hear of the inappropriate summons to an interrogation and of the implied threat to three prominent rabbis and heads of yeshivot,” he said in an urgent letter. “This is a step which looks improper both in its essence, which looks like an attempt to impose scare tactics and political threats, and in its disrespectful format.

“Would a junior police officer have allowed himself, in his spare time, to summon to an investigation a district judge, an archbishop or senior Khadi in this way? I expect the honorable Minister to order an investigation of this gravely [wrong] procedure."

MK Aryeh Eldad (Ichud Leumi – National Union) said he would speak to Aharonovich about the matter as well. "The Minister of Homeland Security must investigate whether it is standard procedure to summon public figures to an interrogation, without telling them what the interrogation is about, whether the State Prosecutor's Office ordered the summons, and if so, who else was summoned, or is this a local initiative of police investigators, and also whether this step is agreed to by the Minister of Homeland Security,” he said.