By Saed Bannoura
A rabbi has been arrested on suspicion of an arson attack on a mosque in the occupied West Bank. Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yusef Chai Yeshiva (rabbinical school), was detained and interrogated by the Israeli police on Tuesday in connection with the burning of the mosque in Yasuf. The attack took place on 11 December last year, and the perpetrators scrawled graffiti on the walls before setting fire to the building, including, "We will burn you all" and "Price Tag".
A spokesperson for the Israeli police force said that they are still trying to determine the role of the Rabbi in this arson attack if, indeed, he had any role at all.
Rabbi Shapira was moved later to a Shin Bet (internal security force) investigation centre in Petah Tikva. His lawyer told Israel's Y-net News that the Rabbi denied the charges and that he will not co-operate with the investigating officers, because they "mistreat the rabbis". The lawyer added that by arresting the Rabbi and holding him in detention the police and Shin Bet have "crossed a red line".
According to Y-net News, dozens of Israeli settlers have been protesting in front of the Shin Bet facility, and Michael Ben-Ari, a Member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) for the National Union Party, likened the conduct of the police to that of "oppressive and dark regimes".
The arrest of Rabbi Shapira comes after last week's arrest of several fundamentalist settlers believed to be involved in the same arson attack against Yasuf mosque. Five settlers, including two minors, are still being held in custody. Two of the detained men are students of yeshivas in the area.
Source: IMEMC & Agencies