Tzfat (Safed) Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu spoke on Sunday about the video from a wedding three weeks ago, in which Jewish extremists appeared to celebrate the deadly Duma arson while waving weapons, in a clip leaked to the media last week that has raised an uproar.
In the video, people are seen dancing and singing a song of revenge while holding guns and knives in the air; one person can also be seen holding a firebomb and a picture of the Arab baby who was murdered in the Duma arson attack in July. The video has led to a police investigation, and has been met with wide condemnation.
However, speaking to Galei Yisrael radio, Rabbi Eliyahu said there are reasons to hold suspicions regarding the incident, implying that the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) may have been involved so as to distract public condemnation over its alleged torture of the Jewish suspects in the Duma case.
"It's just completely absurd. We were at dozens of weddings and didn't see anything like this, I can't rule out that Avishai Raviv cooked this up," said the rabbi, mentioning the infamous ISA agent provocateur.
Raviv held a fictitious double-life for years during the period of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's murder, and was planted among nationalist religious circles to try and expose "extremist" activities. However, the agent's methods were highly controversial and essentially amounted to entrapment. Among other things, Raviv set up a fictitious "Jewish terrorist group" called "Eyal" and encouraged individuals to videotape themselves swearing allegiance in order to entrap them as "terrorists." Raviv also reportedly told Rabin assassin Yigal Amir to "be a man, kill Rabin."
He was investigated and later cleared on suspicions of not having prevented Rabin's murder.
"I've never seen anything like this. How is it that suddenly there's just one (wedding participant) and he's with a hoodie over his face and no one identifies him?," stated Rabbi Eliyahu, noting the one person present at the wedding who held a picture of the Arab baby.
Lending weight to the rabbi's questions are statements by the groom's parents, who said the wedding was hijacked and those videotaped dancing with the picture were not invited guests, and likewise stated their son did not recognize them.
"Someone has an interest here"
"We're familiar (with ISA tactics - ed.) and there have been things in the past. Reports were written by jurists about similar incidents in which the Shabak (ISA) cooked (up incidents). So why shouldn't I think that's also the case here? Someone has an interest here. Someone is enjoying this," said the rabbi.
Rabbi Eliyahu condemned the murder of the Arab couple and their infant son in the Duma arson, but also condemned the distortion in media coverage that he said focuses only on the death of Palestinian Arabs, while ignoring the murder of Jews.
Slamming the lack of "proportions," he said, "120 Jewish children who were murdered are like nothing and these three are the main thing. How did things get flipped, so that the murderers are the victims and the victims are the murderers?"
In a related development, attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir last Friday announced last Friday that he intends to sue the ISA for leaking the tape in an attempt to get him pulled from the Duma case. He noted the clip came after he and other lawyers leveled allegations of torture that the suspects report being subjected to by ISA interrogators.
Ben-Gvir pointed out that the video shows him in the background at the wedding, but noted that the video in fact explicitly proves that from his angle he had no way of seeing the picture of the Arab baby being held up and was not involved in the incident.
The lawyer said he intends to sue the Judea-Samaria district police spokesperson and the ISA for roughly 250,000 shekels (just under $65,000) for "leaking the pictures and taking things out of their context," which he argues is a breach of the law against libel.