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Underground Defendants Won’t Be Allowed to Leave Prison for Holidays

The 20 suspected members of a Jewish terrorist underground on trial for alleged attacks against Arabs in the occupied territories and Jerusalem over the past four years will not be allowed to leave prison for the High Holidays, it was learned here today.

Haim Barlev (Labor), the Minister of Police, made a statement to that effect in the Knesset at the conclusion of the debate on separating the Police Ministry from the Interior Ministry. He also said he did not intend to change the custom according to which a defendant does not receive leave before a trial is concluded.

Barlev expressed surprise that a group of 60 rabbis had signed a petition to release the underground defendants for the holidays, although the prisons are filled with some 7,000 prisoners — among them many religious and observant Jews. The petition was signed by some of the leading rabbis in the country, among them the two Chief Rabbis, and former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

The main argument for the release of the underground defendants was that the Arab detainees in the Ansar detention camp in south Lebanon were also given leave on Moslem holidays. Relatives of the defendants warned last week that if their kin were not released for the holidays they would stage a protest rally outside the Tel Mond prison where the defendants are being held.

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