Jerusalem, July 27 - A group of religious Jewish extremists opposed to thepolicies of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly placed a deathcurse on Sharon on July 21.

Ynet, an Israel-based news Web site, reported that approximately 20extremists took part in the "pulsa denura" ceremony, during which theyprayed that Sharon would die within the coming 30 days.

Rooted in the Kabbalah, a system of Jewish mystic philosophy, theceremony made headlines in Israel a decade ago, when extremist right-wingrabbis prayed for the death of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whowas later gunned down by an Orthdox Jew in 1995.

In an interview with the newspaper Ha'aretz on July 26, MichaelBen-Horin, one of the ceremony's organizers, said that the death curse wasnecessary because security around Sharon "is 10 times tighter than (was) thesecurity around Hitler and Stalin."

The curse comes at a time of heightened tensions in Israel due to theIsraeli disengagement from Gaza and northern West Bank scheduled formid-August. Some rabbis have told their student-soldiers to refuse orders toremove Jewish settlements from Gaza, and hundreds of young religious Jewshave holed up in Gaza, despite Sharon's recent decision to make itoff-limits to non-residents.