(Israeli policemen, mounted on horses, try to control a group of right-wing Israeli protesters during clashes at a protest in Jerusalem June 27, 2011, against the arrest earlier on Monday of their Rabbi Dov Lior/Ronen Zvulun )

Israeli police briefly detained a leading rabbi Sunday as part of a widening probe into a treatise suspected of inciting the murder of Arabs. The investigation has pitted authorities in the Jewish state against far-right West Bank settlers and has led to scuffles outside government institutions in Jerusalem and a sit-down protest that choked off the main highway to Tel Aviv.

Rabbi Yaacov Yosef was seized by detectives on his way back from morning prayers, witnesses said, in a tactic similar to the arrest last week of a senior West Bank rabbi whose followers responded with street protests. ”They commandeered the car and took it away, together with my dad, to an undisclosed destination,” Yosef’s son Yonatan told Israel Radio. The rabbi was freed after an hour, police said.

The clerics had ignored a police summons to be questioned over endorsements for “The King’s Doctrine,” a book written by a more obscure settler rabbi offering justifications from scripture for killing innocent gentiles during religious war. ”Revenge, including strikes on the blameless and on babies, is necessary and important in fighting and defeating evil,” read a passage excerpted on Israel’s top-rated television news.

Israeli security officials fear such edicts could fuel Jewish attacks designed to scupper the eviction of settlers from occupied land they regard as theirs by biblical birthright but where Palestinians, with international support, seek statehood.