Police arrest member of anti-Zionist sect for meeting terror operatives in Jenin

Cops still searching for two more Neturei Karta members, who could face lengthy prison spells if convicted of supporting terror and illegally entering Area A of West Bank

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Neturei Karta members visit the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank on January 9, 2022. (Courtesy)
Neturei Karta members visit the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank on January 9, 2022. (Courtesy)

Police on Thursday said officers arrested a man who entered the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank earlier this week along with two other members of the fringe anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox sect Neturei Karta, and met with Palestinians from local terror groups.

Elhanan Lax, 38, from the central city of Petah Tikva, was detained on suspicion of “supporting and associating with a terror group” and illegally entering Area A of the West Bank, where Jenin is located. Israeli citizens are barred from entering Area A, as it is under the Palestinian Authority’s civilian and security control under the Oslo Accords.

The three men were filmed meeting with prominent Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group officials as well as families of terrorist attackers on Monday. Jenin is seen as a hotbed of Palestinian terrorism.

Police said they are seeking to arrest the other two men. The investigation is being led by the Beit Shemesh police station, as the pair at large are reported to be residents of the city or of Jerusalem. The trio could face lengthy prison spells if convicted of supporting terror.

Police in a statement slammed their “serious and irresponsible conduct contrary to the law.”

“Whether this stems from an unacceptable extremist ideology or because of religious extremism, or otherwise, it will be handled with decisiveness and with zero tolerance by police,” the statement added.

Neturei Karta opposes the modern State of Israel on religious grounds, regularly protesting against the Jewish state, and its members have met with Holocaust deniers and leaders of the Iranian government in the past.

The Neturei Karta members were photographed wearing scarves with Palestinian national colors and carrying Palestinian flags.

A video shared on social media showed them visiting the home of senior PIJ official senior official Bassam al-Saadi, who is in jail in Israel. Saadi’s detention last year sparked a round of fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Another video showed the pair at the entrance to the Jenin refugee camp along with former terror inmate Maher al-Akhras, who is also tied to PIJ.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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