Israel Issues Restraining Orders Against Jewish Youths Ahead of Pope Visit

Move aims at preempting possible provocations during Pope Francis' upcoming two-day visit.

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An Israeli Arab Christian holds a poster depicting Pope Francis during a procession in the northern city of Haifa May 11, 2014.
An Israeli Arab Christian holds a poster depicting Pope Francis during a procession in the northern city of Haifa May 11, 2014. Credit: Reuters

The Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security services issued administrative restraining orders to four right-wing activists, three of them youths, until the end of Pope Francis' upcoming visit, in an attempt to preempt any possible provocations.

The pope is scheduled to commence his two-day visit on Sunday, and the security services are taking unprecedented security steps.

Detectives visited the homes of two of them, 17-year-olds who study at a yeshiva by David's Tomb in Jerusalem, to give them the orders. One youth, who lives in Netanya, must stay within city limits during the day and to remain under house arrest at night. The other, a resident of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank, received an order to stay within the settlement until Saturday night, after which he will be under house arrest until Tuesday.

In addition, the police gave a restraining order to a Jerusalem resident, forbidding him from leaving the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood between Thursday and Monday.

The tomb itself was involved this week in a controversy concerning the visit. Police arrested three people and brought them to court, seeking a restraining order to keep them away from David's Tomb and Jerusalem's Old City. The police claimed that according to intelligence, the three intended to distribute material protesting the papal visit. The judge ruled against the police, writing that intention to distribute flyers does not constitute any legal infraction.

The Shin Bet, which provided the intelligence, commented that it recently received information attesting to the intentions of right wing extremists to interfere with the pope's planned visit, and to engage in "provocative and illegal activities in order to arouse interreligious tension on the visit's occasion."

Consequently, the Shin Bet stated, the security service recommended administrative detention for a number of extremists. "The recommendations were approved by authorized security officials after legal examination by the attorney general," read the statement, adding that the orders strike a balance between "security needs and harm to personal rights."

The statement noted the people who received the restraining orders have the right of appeal.

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