The religious Zionist leadership expressed rage Monday over what it views as the government-ordered abduction of Rav Dov Lior, Rabbi of Kiryat Arba. Police ordered Rav Lior’s car to pull over and arrested him in the morning while he was drivingon the Gush Etzion tunnel road.

He was questioned at the National Unit for Serious and International Crimes and freed in the afternoon.

Religions Minister Rav Yaakov Mergi (Shas) protested to the Minister of Public Security over the arrest of the Rabbi, who “was abducted on his way to Jerusalem like the lowest criminal.”

MK Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home) joined the condemnation voiced by National Union MKs Yaakov Katz, Uri Ariel and Michael Ben-Ari. He hinted that Rabbi Lior was singled out for disrespectful treatment because of the tension between the government and the religious Zionist camp. Police behaved “as if they were in the Wild West,” he said, and would not have acted in the same way in arresting a rabbi from Shas or UTJ.

He called upon the Public Security minister to issue an apology for the arrest and the way it was carried out.

Samaria local authority head Gershon Mesika said Rav Lior’s abduction was an attempt by Soviet Russia to make a comeback and take over the only democracy in the Middle East.” Mesika warned that “the Nation of Israel will take to the streets with devotion until the full release of the Rabbi.” 

Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan called the arrest a serious breach of the most basic principles of free speech, asking: “Did the police arrest the lecturer from Ben Gurion University who called to break the necks of the celebrants of Jerusalem Day? Are there investigations against other leftists who incite against the State of Israel on a daily basis?”

Dayan said the police were behaving like “Thought Police” but vowed that “show arrests of Torah greats will not take place in modern Israel.”

The arrest was apparently due to the existence of an arrest warrant against Rav Lior in the matter of an opinion expressed in a book that he endorsed. The book contains a sentence that quotes some Torah sages as permitting a theoretical Jewish army to kill enemy civilians of all ages, in certain wartime circumstances.

The Tzohar Rabbis accused police of “crossing a black line in its treatment of the Torah world by arresting a Rabbi as if he were a common criminal.” The arrest is a serious infringement of the right to Halachic free speech, they said.

Benny Katzover, who heads the grassroots Samaria Residents’ Council, warned police of “striking a match that will cause many people to react with outrage.”