JERUSALEM — A spiritual leader of Israel’s religious Zionist movement, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, has died after a long illness in Jerusalem. He was 94. Shapira died Thursday after being hospitalized earlier in the week due to deteriorating health. Thousands of his followers had prayed for his well-being in recent days at the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The rabbi of the movement that forms the backbone of Israel’s settlement enterprise was most known in Israel for his call on observant soldiers in 2005 to disobey orders to dismantle 21 Jewish settlements during Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that year.