Rabbi Dov Lior, the former chief rabbi of Hevron and Kiryat Arba and a leading posek [decisor] of Jewish religious law, expressed his support right-wing activists who desecrated the Sabbath to warn yeshiva students they may be arrested, following the death of an Arab woman whose car was hit by stones.
On Friday night, October 12th, 45-year-old Aysha al-Rabi was killed when the al-Rabi family car crashed, after it was hit by stones just south of Tapuah Junction in Samaria.
During the Sabbath, Israeli security agents later revealed, right-wing activists who had been alerted to the woman's death desecrated the Sabbath to drive to the Pri Haaretz Yeshiva in Rechelim to warn students there that they may be arrested in connection with the investigation. Rechelim is located just south of Tapuah Junction, near the scene of the stoning incident.
According to Jewish law, one is not permitted to desecrate the Shabbat, such as by driving a car, unless it is to save a life.
In this case, however, Rabbi Lior ruled that in light of the Shin Bet internal security agency's past treatment of Jewish youths accused in alleged terror plots, warning potential suspects of their impending arrest could be considered "life-saving".
“According to my humble opinion, according to what I was told, that one of the boys after he had undergone suffering in prison, wanted to commit suicide. In other words, the conditions are not as reasonable as they are in a democratic country. The boys who came to encourage and strengthen the spirit of the youngsters are considered saviors,” the rabbi said.
Rabbi Lior added, “We have a rule that if they take someone, then it is written that it is permissible to desecrate Shabbat for him, even though it is not a physical existential problem, but a psychological problem. There is a problem that these boys are liable to lose their sanity.”
Rabbi Lior’s halachic position was joined by Rabbi Yehoshua Mordechai Schmidt, head of the Yeshivat Nachlat Yosef in Shavei Shomron, as well as other rabbis who asked that their names not be published yet.
This halachic position strengthens the ruling of the Torah figure in Yitzhar, with whom the activists consulted before they left on Shabbat.
One of the activists said how they made the decision to travel to Rechalim that Saturday.
“On Shabbat morning, rumors came to the synagogue in Yitzhar, through security forces that were updated on the Shabbat on their behalf, that Shabak [Shin Bet] forces had arrived at the yeshiva in Rehovot, accusing yeshiva students of a complaint by an Arab claiming his wife was killed by a stone on Friday night, near the Tapuah junction.”
“We knew of the Shin Bet’s plans, and we have heard that the forces are already in the yeshiva. From past experience, we have seen that young boys are being taken to solitary confinement in the Shin Bet for long periods of time. They undergo very difficult interrogations. We immediately turned to a senior Torah figure in the community to consult with on whether it was permissible to go to the yeshiva in order to provide assistance and psychological preparation to the students before they would be arrested and find themselves in such a situation.
“We have to remember that we are talking about teenagers who are entering such a situation without knowing what they would go through in the Shin Bet rooms. Its is a real danger to their lives. The story of the minor who, during the Duma interrogation, who was pushed to the point of cutting his veins in order to be saved from the investigations.”
“As we know has happened with some who had been detained by the Shin Bet security forces in the past, even without meeting an attorney, we know very well what it feels like and where it can get to. We realized that proper preparation and support for the boys in this situation could literally save lives. After we received permission to check on the internet, that indeed the situation is such that the suspicions will likely fall on the yeshiva in Rechalim, only then did we rely on the ruling that allowed us to travel to save the souls. Thank G-d that same Shabbat, the forces arrived at the yeshiva, but no one were arrested. By the way, now that we have heard how they are being interrogated, it is clear to us that the considerations and rulings on that Shabbat were correct and virtuous.
“We remember that the detention of the five youths was extended until Thursday. Two of the boys are still prevented from meeting with an attorney and their conditions are unknown. Their families have expressed concern about their mental state.”