'Rabbi's attackers must be severely punished'

Defense Minister responds to attack on home of Kiryat Gat Chief Rabbi by Neturei Karta members.

Hezki Baruch ,

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman responded to last night’s attack on the home of Kiryat Gat Chief Rabbi, Moshe Havlin, saying the incident “crossed a red line”, demanding that the perpetrators be harshly punished.

According to witnesses, a dozen or so haredi demonstrators attacked Havlin’s home Wednesday night, breaking in and tearing up furniture, while shouting and cursing at the rabbi. Rabbi Havlin’s wife was hospitalized as a result of the incident.

Police arrested three of the attackers, who are believed to be associated with the radical anti-Zionist Neturei Karta movement.

Rabbi Havlin, a member of the Chabad Hasidic community, was targeted by the vandals because of his support for a recently negotiated agreement between Chabad yeshivas and the IDF.

Under the agreement, 85% of Chabad yeshiva students will enlist in the army, while 15% receive an exemption, allowing them to continue to study and prepare for work as Chabad emissaries.

Liberman, who in recent weeks has appealed to the Justice Ministry and Internal Security Ministry to increase enforcement against inciters targeting haredi soldiers, said Wednesday’s incident was proof Israel needed to send a “clear message” that it would not tolerate harassment of haredi soldiers or their supporters.

“We must send a clear message to these hooligans that the State of Israel will not tolerate any kind of incitement or violence against soldiers or rabbis.”

“The attack against the [Kiryat Gat Chief] Rabbi crosses a red line, and justice system must use [its response to] the incident as a warning to any who threaten to or take action to harm haredi soldiers or those who works to integrate haredim into the IDF.”

“Only decisive, unambiguous action and a serious punishment against the attackers can put a stop to this terrible phenomenon.”