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MK Struk Defends Shabbat Phone Call During Search for Teens

Jewish Home MK used phone on Sabbath, igniting a rabbinic brouhaha; says she was only criticized because she is a woman.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/25/2014, 3:39 PM

MK Orit Struk
MK Orit Struk
Israel news photo: Flash 90

MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home), who ignited a rabbinic debate when she admitted to using her telephone on the Sabbath to call Minister Naftali Bennett and MK Yariv Levin to discuss the abduction of the three yeshiva students, says she is being singled out for criticism because of her sex.

On the Sabbath that followed the abduction of the students, about 24 hours after the abductions became known, Struk called Bennett and Levin and opined that there should be even larger-scale arrests, including terrorists who were freed in various deals and “gestures,” and that Palestinian Arabs should be told that these prisoners will not be freed until the three teens are freed.

Israel must “put an end to this abduction game,” she told Arutz Sheva at the time, and terrorists must be made to understand that the only ones who lose at this game are they themselves. It is not known if her opinion played a role in the subsequent decision-making, but the government did, indeed, take action along similar lines, in rearresting some of the terrorists freed in the Shalit deal.

MK Struk explained her decision to use the telephone on the Sabbath – an action forbidden to by Torah Law (halakha) except in situations of life and death – by saying that she saw her idea as “life saving.”

"Had I been a man, and one with rank insignia on his shoulder straps at that, I imagine that no one would have even criticized me,” she told Galei Israel radio Wednesday. “I think I have difficulty condemning the condemners because they apparently do not know how decisions are actually made in this country, or what my influence is on decision-making - and not just in this case, but also in many other cases.”

Those who criticize her, she explained, “are probably thinking – 'Oh well, she's a woman from Hevron, let her stay in the kitchen,' or 'What can she contribute, there are important officers who know more than her?' The more I learn about what really happened in those hours and what ideas and directions were being floated, I am becoming more convinced that it was important that I made that telephone call on time.”