Former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was quoted Monday as describing the tsunami disaster as God's punishment for world support of the disengagement plan.
The remarks were contained in an interview Eliyahu gave to the Haredi Ma'ayanei Hayeshua magazine, which appears mainly in synagogues. The interview was quoted in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Monday.
When asked how the disaster could be interpreted, Eliyahu, a staunch opponent of the planned pullout from the whole of the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank, cited the Talmud as stating:
"When the Holy One, Blessed Be He is angry with the world's nations who fail to help Israel, who want to evacuate and to disengage and who interfere in our affairs and harm us, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, claps his hands in sadness- and all this causes the quake."
Eliyahu said he intended to arrive at the Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip ahead of the pullout and to instruct 10 rabbis to circle the settlement bloc and pray that it remains in Israeli hands.
"It will be a retreat and the beginning of a fall," Eliyahu said. "I repeat my plea to all the country's leaders to disengage from the disengagement."