Rabbi: Tsunami punishment for pullout

Last month's Asian tsunami disaster was a form of divine retribution for the world's support of the planned pullout of settlers from the Gaza Strip, a former chief rabbi of Israel has said.

    More than 280,000 people died in the tsunami aftermath

    "The all powerful one was angry with the nations that did not help Israel, which wanted an evacuation, a disengagement [from Gaza] ... and this provoked the earth to shake," Mordechai Eliahu said in a religious publication distributed on Monday in thousands of synagogues throughout Israel.


    The top-selling Yediot Ahronoth said the rabbi was guilty of "extreme stupidity" with his comments.


    Right-wing rabbis have been among the instigators of the opposition to the plan by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to pull troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip by the end of the year.


    The number of people presumed dead in last month's tsunamis rose to more than 286,000 on Monday when Indonesian authorities announcing a further increase in the number of dead and missing.



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