Mass protest held against arrest of two rabbis

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in front of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem against the arrest of two prominent rabbis.

The demonstrators, which some Israeli media outlets said numbered at least 2,000, rallied Monday evening in support of Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who over the last week were arrested and questioned on suspicion of incitement for their endorsement of the controversial book, “Torat Hamelech,” or “The King’s Torah,” which reportedly discusses situations in which it is permissible for Jews to kill non-Jews.

The book’s author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, previously had been detained and questioned over the contents of his book.

Hundreds of people also demonstrated in Jerusalem Sunday after the arrest of Yosef.

“Rabbis should express their opinion and not fear someone won’t like it,” Lior told protesters Monday evening, while also thanking those responsible for the arrests, “otherwise we would still be sleeping.”

Speakers said they attended the rally to protest a double standard under which rabbis were arrested for their interpretations of the Torah, but left-wing academics who called for violence against Jewish settlers were not investigated. 

Following the peaceful demonstration, protestors blocked the roads leading in to Jerusalem, as well as the light rail, and damaged a pipe near the Chord Bridge. Police used water cannons to stop the rioting protestors. Five demonstrators were arrested.