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Rabbi Levinger May Be Imprisoned For Civil Disobedience

Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the founder of the Jewish community in Hevron and a leader of the settlement movement since its inception, is being threatened with incarceration.
First Publish: 6/9/2005, 3:00 PM / Last Update: 6/8/2005, 8:26 PM

The rabbi, in his seventies, may be jailed for refusing to agree to being placed under house arrest after taking part in the massive coordinated country-wide civil disobedience three weeks ago.

Rabbi Levinger was arrested, along with more than 500 other protesters across Israel on the May 16th "test run" protests, in which 40 major intersections across the country were brought to a halt by anti-expulsion protesters. Though most of those arrested were released within 24 hours, Rabbi Levinger was kept in jail for several days at the prosecution's request.

Last week, Rabbi Levinger received an order to report to the Be'er Sheva court for another hearing, which took place Wednesday. According to Rabbi Levinger, the prosecution is demanding that he either be placed under house arrest or be incarcerated, until conclusion of the proceedings against him.

"The reason is that Rabbi Levinger's acts are not criminally motivated; rather, they are ideologically motivated, thereby making him 'dangerous to the public,'" Hevron spokesman David Wilder said.

Rabbi Levinger's attorney requested that the next hearing be delayed for a week, allowing him time to study the case and prepare a response. However, the judge refused and scheduled another hearing for Thursday at 1:00 PM. Rabbi Levinger declared that he will not agree to being placed under "house arrest" under any circumstances, meaning that should the judge accept the prosecution's demands, he will be incarcerated.

Scores of Hevron and Kiryat Arba residents showed up at the court, declaring that if the rabbi goes to jail, they will go with him.

The court officials conducted a selection, barring bearded men and outwardly observant women from entering the courtroom.

The judge decided to postpone the hearing for another week. The protesters attribute the move to the large numbers of those present.

"When a man like Rabbi Levinger is being jailed just because people look to him for truth and guidance, you know that prison has become the refuge of the honest man," said a resident of Kiryat Arba. "We will fill the jails and stay there as long as it takes to bring the concept of justice back into the Land of Israel."