24 Kislev 5775Erev Hanukah
The head of the far-right extremist group Lehava was arrested on Tuesday for allegations of incitement and calls to carry out violence and terror activity based on nationalistic motives, Israel Police reported.
Lehava chairman Bentzi Gupstein, along with nine other activists from the group, were each taken into custody from their individual homes, following ten months of both open and undercover police investigation.
Lehava's Facebook group has since been shut down for inciting racism and violence.
Three of the group's members were accused of carrying out arson and racist vandalism last month at Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, a joint Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem. The members reportedly committed the acts because they were "angry about a memorial ceremony for Yasser Arafat" that took place at the school.
Itamar Ben Gvir, the lawyer for the 10 suspects, criticized how police handled Gupstein's arrest, saying they "turned the house inside out," causing damage, before taking Gupstein away in handcuffs.
"Left-wing politicians put on the pressure and police are now fighting Lehava, even though it's clear that they are a legal organization that openly operates against assimilation," Ben Gvir said. "This is a disgrace."
The group follows the racist teachings of the late Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane, whose Kach Party was outlawed by Israel for inciting racism. Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990.
Lehava made national headlines in August when its members attempted to disrupt the wedding of an Arab man to a Jewish woman who had converted to Islam.