Threat of Arrest Fails to Silence Israeli Extremist

Published: 08th August 2015 10:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th August 2015 10:27 AM   |  A+A-

Having publicly advocated the destruction of Israel's Christian churches, Benzi Gopstein might have good cause to fear for his liberty.

But if Mr Gopstein, the leader of Lehava - a group infamous for its virulent campaigns against relationships between Arab men and Jewish women - worries about arrest after Benjamin Netanyahu's government announced an unprecedented offensive against "Jewish terror", he was not showing it.

Instead, he brazenly urged the same government to expel Christian places of worship from the Holy Land.

Asked if the government should set fire to churches - as hard-line Jewish extremists have done in recent times - he replied: "Not burn. They need to take them out. We don't have a place for churches here. It's Jewish law. This is what God told us."

Mr Gopstein, 46, a religious settler from Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Hebron was addressing an explosive topic at a sensitive time.

The authorities, driven by revulsion over a fire-bomb attack blamed on far-Right settlers that killed a Palestinian child in the West Bank village of Duma last week, have disclosed plans to detain Jewish militants without trial, a measure long applied to Palestinian suspects.

Mordechai Meyer, 18, was ordered to be detained for six months for activities that were said to include suspected involvement in a fire that badly damaged the Church of Loaves and Fishes on the banks of the Sea of Galilee.

Mr Gopstein said his organisation did not carry out church attacks, but he admitted he could be arrested soon, even though the Shin Bet, Israel's domestic intelligence service, has decided there are no grounds for outlawing his group.

"If they arrest me, I am ready. It's not the first time," he said.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp