Police Chief: There Are Dozens of neo-Nazis Active in Israel

Cohen: Police to act with 'utmost severity, zero tolerance'; neo-Nazi graffiti discovered on Eilat synagogue walls.

Police Commissioner David Cohen said Monday that he believes there are dozens of people currently involved in neo-Nazi activities in Israel.

Cohen added that they apparently operate in small groups or alone, and not in large, organized groups.

Nevertheless, as a result of the investigations conducted over the past year, which exposed one neo-Nazi organization, he believes it will be possible to locate other neo-Nazi activists and bring them to justice.

"The police will act with the utmost severity and zero tolerance," Cohen said at a ceremony at police headquarters Monday in honor of the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday. He also praised the investigators who exposed the neo-Nazis now on trial.

Meanwhile, graffiti with Nazi overtones, such as "Hitler is the Messiah" and "Long live Hitler and Jesus Christ," accompanied by crosses and swastikas, were discovered Monday evening on the walls of the synagogue of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Eilat, Rabbi Moshe Hadaya.

The synagogue is located in a neighborhood with many religious institutions and a heavily religious population. The inscriptions were discovered when people arrived for a class and evening prayers.

"We were all shocked and stunned," said Rabbi Yair Hadaya, the son of the chief rabbi. "I do not view it as an affront to the rabbi, but as an affront to the country and the Jewish people."

He added that he does not view the incident as any more serious because it took place in a synagogue; such acts are serious wherever they occur. Education, he continued, is the answer to the problem.

The deputy commander of the Eilat police, Eitan Gadasi, said that the incident was under investigation, but for now, it appears to have been an isolated occurrence. "Such incidents happened in the distant past in Eilat," he said. "At this stage, it is too early to say whether there is a neo-Nazi cell in Eilat."

Hadaya noted that during the Selihot period of repentance that precedes Rosh Hashanah, the synagogue is open daily from 4 A.M.

Junior high and high schools will hold special activities relating to the neo-Nazi problem next week, including classroom discussions led by teachers and counselors from the youth movements. In addition, the Educational Television channel will broadcast a film related to the issue.

Education Minister Yuli Tamir sent principals a letter Monday saying that the affair must not be swept under the carpet, and that students must be given a chance to discuss such matters, as a means of prevention.

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