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15 Jewish Extremists Arrested in Israel for Alleged Threats Against Arabs Who Date Jews

  • VOA News

FILE - Bentzi Gopstein, leader of the extreme right-wing movement Lehava, is handcuffed as he arrives for his hearing at a Jerusalem Court, Dec. 16, 2014.

Israeli police have arrested 15 members of a Jewish extremist group for allegedly threatening to attack Arab men who date Jewish women.

Bentzi Gopstein, the leader of the group called Lehava, was ordered to remain under house arrest after a court appearance Sunday. Most of the other members were released.

Gopstein denied the charges as "nonsense," insisting Lehava operates within the limits of the law.

Gopstein's lawyer blames those he calls leftists and reform Jews for pressuring police to act.

Police say they arrested the 15 after an undercover investigation into Lehava. A police spokesman said the operation was meant to "prevent radicalization by members of the group and harming others on the basis of racist nationalism."

Lehava and Gopstein have been under police scrutiny for several years over threatening comments made about non-Jews. Several Lehava members were arrested for trying to burn down an Arab-Jewish school in 2014.

Gopstein has encouraged arson attacks on churches and has been seen near weddings between Jews and Arabs shouting racist slogans, including "Death to Arabs." He has also condemned homosexuals.

Some Israeli politicians have called for Lehava to be branded a terrorist group.