Levinger Brought in for Questioning in Israel’s Crack-down on Extremists

Israeli security officials moved this week against veteran settlers’ leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger and others in its continuing effort to crack down on rightwing extremist groups.

The action was taken amid charges from Israeli opposition parties that the government’s outlawing of the Kach and Kahane Chai parties was a politically motivated ploy to placate the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The PLO suspended negotiations with Israel following the Feb. 25 killings of at least 29 Palestinians at a Hebron mosque by a Jewish settler. It has since demanded that Israel get tough with right-wing settlers groups as a prerequisite for resuming talks.

On Sunday, the Cabinet voted unanimously to outlaw the militantly anti-Arab parties, declaring them terrorist organizations. That day, authorities brought in for questioning Levinger, his wife and others allegedly involved in violence against West Bank Palestinians.

In 1968, Levinger led a group of followers into Hebron, where they moved into an abandoned hotel. As the number of settlers in Hebron and in the neighboring settlement of Kiryat Arba grew, there was increasing violence between Jew and Palestinian.

Levinger — who has been imprisoned in the past for violence against Palestinians, including killing a Palestinian merchant — was questioned Sunday about an incident three months ago, when he allegedly intimidated Muslim worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the Hebron site where Dr. Baruch Goldstein carried out his Feb. 25 killing spree.

Miriam Levinger was questioned about an incident in a Hebron market some months ago when she allegedly overturned market stalls and assaulted a policeman.

Also brought in for questioning was Elisheva Federman, wife of Kach activist Noam Federman, who is currently in administrative detention. He is one of six party activists who have been targeted by the government for arrest.

A blackout has meanwhile been imposed on proceedings against Michael Ben-Horin of the Golan village of Nob, who is also in custody. Ben-Horin is the self-styled president of the State of Judea, which was founded in the late 1980s by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane to claim control over the West Bank in the wake of any Israeli withdrawal.

Ben-Horin’s wife told a television reporter that her husband, formerly a central figure in Kach, had become more “balanced” after the death of Kahane, who was assassinated in New York in 1990. “He is a member of Tsomet,” she said of her husband, referring to the right-wing nationalist party led by former army chief of staff Rafacl Eitan.

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