Police Question Rabbis About Rabin Assassination
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Police interrogated two rabbis suspected of giving an assassin religious sanction to kill Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as a threat to the Israeli people, police sources said Sunday.
The rabbis allegedly reassured confessed gunman Yigal Amir that he would be justified in killing Rabin as a ``rodef″ _ or persecutor _ on the grounds that Rabin’s peacemaking with Palestinians put Israeli lives in danger, said the police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Under Jewish religious law, a ``rodef″ may be killed to prevent him from causing the deaths of his victims.
Suspicion against the rabbis reflects the tension between Israel’s secular majority and the extreme nationalist religious groups, which peaked in Rabin’s Nov. 4 assassination after a Tel Aviv peace rally.
Amir and the other suspects under arrest for alleged involvement in the killing all are religious Jews who oppose the government’s peace efforts with the Palestinians.
Rabbi Yehuda Amital, a moderate religious leader who was appointed by Rabin’s successor, Shimon Peres, to the Cabinet last week to make amends with religious Israelis, told army radio that rabbis who had advocated violence against Rabin should be prosecuted.
``If they carried out incitement and encouragement of rebellion, they must be brought to justice, no doubt,″ Amital said of the two rabbis under interrogation.
Amital, who heads a Jewish seminary in the West Bank, said he taught one of the rabbis, Shmuel Dvir from the Karmei Tsur settlement, and remembered him as markedly extremist in his views.
Dvir and another rabbi, identified by Israel Radio as David Kav, arrived at police headquarters in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv after being summoned.
Kav taught at the Kerem seminary in the Israeli town of Yavneh, where Amir also studied several years ago, army radio said.
The two are being investigated on suspicion of incitement to murder. Police sources said interrogators also suspect they knew of the plan to shoot Rabin.
Dror Adani, a friend of Amir who also has been arrested in the assassination, has said that Amir asked him to get rabbinical permission for the killing several months before the slaying.
Adani’s attorney said that the rabbi approached by Adani agreed that Rabin was a ``rodef,″ but did not give his blessing to kill Rabin for fear it might lead to civil war. The rabbi was not publicly identified.
Also in Petah Tikva, a magistrate prolonged by six days the detention of Margalit Har-Shefi, a friend of Amir.
Har-Shefi is being held on suspicion that she knew about the planned assassination _ which her lawyer and family deny. Channel 2 TV said Har-Shefi, 20, called Amir’s house on the night of the killing to ask if ``the mission had been accomplished.″
In another development, senior Tel Aviv police official Yaakov Shoval was to testify Sunday before a state-appointed commission about allegations that police failed to keep civilians out of the area around Rabin’s car and that detectives assigned to guard the prime minister were missing on the night of the murder, security sources said.
A Shin Bet officer in charge of monitoring subversive groups was to testify about intelligence work in advance of the assassination, including a tip to the agency from a reserve officer who told authorities about the plot but did not supply Amir’s name.