Rabbi Yaakov Yosef after questioning
Police on Sunday morning released Rabbi Yaakov Yosef after detaining and interrogating him over his alleged endorsement of the controversial Torat Hamelech (The King’s Torah) book.
Rabbi Yosef was stopped by National Serious and International Crimes Unit detectives as he returned from prayers in east Jerusalem, and was later released after being questioned.
The rabbi’s son, Yonatan Yosef, told Israel Radio that police entered his father’s car and “abducted” him at an “unknown location.”
Yonatan admitted his father was previously summoned for question over incitement suspicions but refused to show up because of what he claimed is “unequal law enforcement.”
Upon reports of the detention, the rabbi’s supporters, apparently hasidim, burned tires near Haim Bar-Lev Street in Jerusalem.
Police also arrested three young men in Jerusalem who tried to block the tracks of the city’s light rail.
While police said there were no disruptions to traffic, officers were bracing to confront possible protests over Yosef’s detainment, and preparing prevent any disturbances and road blocks.
Last Tuesday, Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef, turned down a police summons calling on him to come to the headquarters of the National Serious and International Crimes Unit in Lod.
MK Michael Ben-Ari said of the detainment, “The police has proved that it is strong enough to arrest rabbis, lovers of Israel, and to humiliate them,” Israel Radio reported.
“When will [police] begin fighting criminals and anarchists,” the National Union MK added.
Shortly after news broke of the rabbi’s detainment, police reported that tires were thrown onto the main Jerusalem highway near Rehov Haim Bar-Lev inside the city. No disruptions to traffic were reported.
On Thursday, hundreds of yeshiva students gathered in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Shmuel Hanavi within minutes as a rumor raced through the neighborhood that police cars were outside Yosef’s house and his arrest was imminent.
Clashes between right-wing activists and police erupted on Monday at the entrance to Jerusalem and near the Supreme Court building following the short detention and questioning that day of Kiryat Arba-Hebron Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, who also allegedly endorsed the 2009 book.
Torat Hamelech, by the rabbi of the Yitzhar settlement, Yitzhak Shapira, gives Jews permission to preemptively kill gentiles under certain conditions in wartime.
Government officials, however, were highly critical of the rabbis’ refusal to obey the summons.
“Israel is a law-abiding country. The law binds all, and all are subject to it,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “I call on all the country’s citizens to obey the law.”