Report: Mercaz rabbi sought revenge attacks

A Mercaz Harav rabbi reportedly suborned revenge attacks for last week’s massacre at the Jerusalem yeshiva.

Israel’s Channel 1 television reported Tuesday that three Mercaz Harav alumni held a secret meeting with an unnamed rabbi from the yeshiva shortly after a Palestinian terrorist gunned down eight students there last Thursday.

According to the report, the rabbi told the alumni that Israel’s security forces would not retaliate for the attack – the assailant was shot dead, and no Palestinian faction has formally claimed responsibility – so they should seek revenge. Two other leading rabbis without links to Mercaz Harav endorsed the edict as religiously sound, according to Channel 1.

Mercaz Harav issued a statement calling the report “spin” by the Israeli government, which decided against suspending peace talks with the Palestinian Authority after the yeshiva massacre.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s counterterrorist service, declined comment, and it was not clear if any suspects had been arrested for the alleged revenge plot. Israel’s Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said he had no knowledge of any such plot.

On Monday, Mercaz Harav’s chief rabbi, Yaacov Shapira, convened the yeshiva’s students to make clear he would oppose any revenge attacks or other “provocations” in east Jerusalem, where the Palestinian gunman lived, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported.

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