JERUSALEM, Nov 5, 1999 (Reuters) - Israel deported to the United States on Friday a Christian leader who came to Jerusalem to witness what cult members believe will be a millennial Second Coming.
Police spokeswoman Linda Menuhin said Brother David, who moved to Israel 20 years ago and headed the "House of Prayer" group, was put on an El Al Israel Airlines flight to New York's Kennedy Airport.
He was one of 20 Christians rounded up from homes on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives last month and ordered deported. Israeli police said they were suspected of plotting violent acts intended to trigger the apocalypse.
The 20 were members of two organisations -- the "Temple" group and the "House of Prayer" group -- which believe that the turn of the millennium could witness the end of the world and the Second Coming of the Messiah.
Their deportation raised to around 60 the number of Christians expelled from Israel this year in the approach to 2000.
"We got information from the police and from abroad, the U.K. and the U.S., that they were a danger to public safety," a Ministry of the Interior spokesman said of the detainees.
"God does not want me to go out," Brother David told Reuters in a call from prison on Tuesday. He said Israel was wrongly accusing Christian believers who had no intention of wrongdoing. "They took people they should not have taken," he said.
"There is nothing in the Bible that teaches violence or to hurt people."
U.S. diplomatic sources said it had been unclear for some time after his detention whether Brother David could be deported to the United States at all. He renounced his U.S. citizenship when he came to Israel and destroyed all his documents.
Up to three million Christian pilgrims are expected to visit the Holy Land in 2000 to mark the start of Christianity's third millennium.
Police fear that a small minority of zealots among the visitors will come with apocalyptic visions of the end of the world and could try to ignite violence.