"Christians appeal to Israeli ministry to prevent deportation"

("Associated Press", October 28, 1999)

Members of Christian doomsday groups arrested by Israeli police have appealed their deportation, a spokesman said Thursday.
The suspects, including some U.S. citizens, appealed late Wednesday to the Interior Ministry, said ministry spokesman Moshe Mosko. The 11 were among 21 foreign Christians arrested Monday for what police said were plans to disrupt public order and prepare the ground for more radical groups.
The police operation was the third in recent months against Christian groups.
As 2000 approaches, Israel has been on increased alert for doomsday Christians who may plan violence in an attempt to set off a chain of apocalyptic events they hope will bring about Jesus' return.
One of those arrested this week, an Australian, has been released since she already had purchased an airplane ticket and has promised to fly home. The nine others who have not appealed within the 72 hours allotted them will
probably be deported Thursday night, police spokesman Rafi Yaffe said.
Authorities had yet to complete the final arrangements for the deportation of the nine detainees, such as the purchase of flight tickets, Mosko said. Some also needed travel documents to be prepared since they had destroyed their passports, he added.
A U.S. Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that based on his knowledge of similar cases in the past, it was unlikely the Interior Ministry would accept the appeal.
Those in detention are mostly Americans but also include British and Jamaican citizens, followers of groups called House of Prayer and Solomon's Temple.
Those arrested, many of whom have lived in Israel for years, rented apartments on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives, where tradition says Jesus will appear first for the Second Coming.
Israel deported 14 members of the Denver-based Concerned Christians group in January on suspicions that they planned to commit mass suicide in Jerusalem.

"Israel Deports Doomsday Christians"

by Laurie Copans ("Associated Press", October 28, 1999)

JERUSALEM (AP) - In its third operation against Christian doomsday groups in a year, Israel on Thursday began deporting 20 foreigners suspected of planning violent acts during the millennium year.
With Christian pilgrims heading to Israel for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Israeli police have been on alert for religious fanatics who believe they can facilitate the second coming of Christ through violent acts or mass suicide. A special police unit has been established to deal with the threat.
On Monday, Israel arrested 17 Americans, two Britons and two Australians, all members of the House of Prayer and Solomon's Temple groups, on the Mount of Olives.
One of the Australians was released because she had already purchased a plane ticket.
The Britons were put on a flight for London on Thursday, and 11 of the Americans were to leave for New York City early Friday, police said.
The others will be deported in the coming days when spaces on flights become available, police spokesman Rafi Yaffe said.
The Interior Ministry tried to address potential tourists' concerns about the crackdown.
``The state of Israel was and will continue to be open to tourists and pilgrims, and the Interior Ministry will do everything to ease the entrance of pilgrims and tourists to Israel,'' read the statement.
The 20 people being deported said they only provided housing to needy Christians and guided tours around the Old City of Jerusalem. Some of them had lived in Israel for some time.
But police say they were suspected of laying the infrastructure for apocalyptic groups to take root on the Mount of Olives, where tradition says Jesus will first arrive in the Second Coming.
``Israeli police have information that the deportees pose a threat to public order,'' said the Interior Ministry statement.
Eleven of those detained Monday had appealed their deportation to the Interior Ministry, but the petitions were rejected Thursday and arrangements made for the deportations.
Some of the Americans slated for deportation had destroyed their passports and needed new travel documents, Yaffe said.
One of the Americans, who identified himself as Brother Raymond of Sacramento, Calif., said from a police van after he was arrested Monday that the police operations were ``the work of the devil.''
Israel deported 14 members of the Denver-based Concerned Christians in 1998 on suspicion they planned to commit mass suicide at holy sites in Jerusalem to bring about apocalyptic events and the second coming.
Members of another group, 25 Irish and Romanian Christians deported earlier this month, said they were a legitimate religious group dedicated to helping disabled people. They accused Israeli police of treating them roughly before they were deported.
The police said the group was ``an extreme Christian cult,'' but Irish officials insisted the group was not dangerous.


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