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Israeli Police Question Head of Extremist Anti-Coexistence Group

Israel Police questioned the head of the Lehava anti-coexistence group, days after he said he supports the burning of churches and mosques.

Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein was released on Tuesday after being asked “about his comments regarding the burning of churches,” a police spokesman told the French news agency AFP. Gopstein has not been linked to any recent attacks.

The rabbi made the statement during a symposium on the topic of halachah, or Jewish religious law, a recording of which was later published on the website of the haredi Orthodox news website Kikar Hashabbat.

Lehava opposes intermarriage and joint Jewish-Arab initiatives. Members of the group staged a protest in December against a marriage between a Muslim-Israeli man and a Jewish-Israeli woman. The group also protested the Jerusalem gay pride parade last week, where a lone attacker stabbed six marchers, killing a teenage girl.

A Vatican group, The Custody of the Holy Land, in a letter to Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday asked that Gopstein be indicted for the threat. The group said that Gopstein poses a threat to Christians in Israel.

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