Orthodox Jews have burned hundreds of New Testaments in the latest act of violence against Christian missionaries in Israel.

Uzi Aharon, the deputy mayor of the central Israeli town of Or Yehuda, says he got into a loudspeaker car last Thursday and urged people to turn over hundreds of New Testaments and missionary material recently distributed by missionaries.

The books were dumped into a pile and religious students set them afire in a lot near a synagogue, he said.

The Maariv newspaper reported Tuesday that hundreds of students took part in the book-burning.

But Aharon told The AP on Tuesday that only a few students were present and he was not there when the books were torched. Hundreds of New Testaments were burned, he said.

Proselytizing is frowned upon in Israel but is not illegal in most cases.