CBNNews.com - OR YEHUDA, Israel - The deputy mayor of Or Yehuda, Uzi Aharon, called on residents last Thursday to turn over any New Testaments in their possession to yeshiva (religious seminary) students.
Aharon, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, made his plea over a loudspeaker as he drove through a neighborhood of predominantly Ethiopian immigrants.
After the students collected hundreds of New Testaments in a door-to-door search, they threw them in a lot near the neighborhood's synagogue and set them on fire.
On Tuesday, Aharon told The Jerusalem Post that last week's incident was unplanned and regrettable.
"I wasn't even on the scene when the boys rounded up all the Bibles and brought them all to one place [near the synagogue in the Neveh Rabin neighborhood]," Aharon told the Post.
"They started burning them before I got there," he said. "Once I arrived, the most I could do was pull a Bible out of the fire. I put it in nylon and it's now in my car," he said.
"I am really sorry for the book burning, but I did not organize it," Aharon said. "It was a spontaneous thing by the yeshiva boys."
The Bible burning is the latest in a series of incidents against Israeli believers, both Jew and gentile, coming from the ultra-Orthodox.
Earlier this month, the Chief Rabbinate called for the cancellation of the annual International Bible Quiz when a Messianic Jewish high school junior qualified for the finals.
During the Purim holiday, police suspect anti-missionaries were behind the delivery of a large bomb, hidden in holiday gift box, to a family of believers in Ariel.
Fifteen-year-old Ami Ortiz was critically injured when he opened the box, detonating the explosives.
In the southern Israeli cities of Beersheba and Arad, ultra-Orthodox Jews have harassed and threatened members of Messianic congregations there.
Source: The Jerusalem Post