6 arrested at protest against demolition of West Bank synagogue
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6 arrested at protest against demolition of West Bank synagogue

Arrests come a day after top rabbis urge troops to refuse order to raze structure, which court rules was built on private Palestinian land

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Activists standing on a rooftop at the Ayelet Hashahar synagogue in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze'ev, north of Jerusalem, November 4, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Activists standing on a rooftop at the Ayelet Hashahar synagogue in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze'ev, north of Jerusalem, November 4, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Six right-wing activists were arrested Thursday evening for protesting in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev against the demolition of a local synagogue that the Supreme Court has ruled is illegally built on private Palestinian land. Demonstrators also burned tires and blocked a nearby highway.

Police said in a statement the protesters briefly blocked Route 436 in both directions before security forces dispersed them.

The statement warned that police “would not tolerate incidents violating public order, and will act decisively and without prejudice against anyone harming public order.”

On Wednesday, a number of prominent rabbis, including Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen, issued a public notice urging IDF soldiers and security forces to refuse the court’s order to demolish the Ayelet Hashahar synagogue.

The rabbis said the court order was to be ignored, and those who refused to participate in the “desecration of God’s name” would reap blessings from God.

Ahead of last Wednesday’s planned demolition, police started surrounding the synagogue and were met with hundreds of right-wing activists who had blockaded themselves inside the structure and were threatening to harm themselves and security forces.

The protesters said they were prepared to fight the troops and even plan to use weapons to stop the demolition, the Walla news site reported at the time.

Amid the threats of violence, police last week asked the Supreme Court to postpone the demolition. The court granted the extension and ruled that the structure must be demolished no later than November 17.

In 2014, following a seven-year legal battle, the court ruled that the synagogue was built on privately owned Palestinian land and must be demolished.

The petition against the synagogue was originally brought by the non-government group Yesh Din, which claimed the documents relating to the purchase of the property were forged.

Supreme Court Justice Miriam Noar, who ruled the synagogue be demolished, was granted additional security following a security assessment by the Shin Bet security service last week.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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