Clashes Reached Jerusalem
Roni Malul and Yitzhak Tessler • Ma’ariv (p. 2)
Translation: Didi Remez • Coteret
After they failed in Ashkelon, and the work for evacuating the graves in the Barzilai Hospital compound was launched as planned, extremist ultra-Orthodox elements decided to move the focal point of the clashes to a more convenient venue for them—the Shabbat Square in Jerusalem. Close to 1,000 Haredim came to the rally, after which hundreds went out into the streets to vandalize equipment and set fires. It is also suspected that some of the extremists sought to cast a curse on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister’s Office Director General Eyal Gabbai.
Sources in the Eda Haredit hurried to clarify that no pulsa denura ceremony [a mystical ritual that is supposed to lead to the death of the person being cursed—INT] had been carried out, and that despite the threats and rumors that preceded the rally, the Haredim refrained from casting a curse, and only condemned Netanyahu’s actions. Despite the denials, a senior source in the Eda Haredit clarified that “there was a curse. However, it was more minor and not as severe as first thought—this was not a pulsa denura.” The general wording of the curse that the Haredim sought to cast says that the person responsible for the crime of relocating the graves will have his hands chopped off.
But despite the combative spirit and the disappointment with the lack of success in disrupting the work in Ashkelon, the riots in Jerusalem drew only several hundred Haredim. However, the odor of trash cans being torched returned last night to Jerusalem—starting from the evening hours, the Haredim started to stop traffic in the city, block roads, throw stones and bottles at cars and clash with mounted policemen, who tried to disperse the demonstration.
The riots also spread yesterday to the Bar Ilan Street area, and included stone throwing by Haredim at police officers. Towards 10:00 PM, several hundred Haredim arrived at the spot and tried to block the road bodily, while throwing various objects at the police. Large police forces that were deployed at the spot, including police officers and Border Policemen, spent a long time clearing away the rioters by means of a water cannon.
The disturbances lasted into the night, with the Haredim trying periodically to block the road, being removed by the police, withdrawing until the police move away and then trying to block the road once again. In total, six rioters were arrested during the riots.
Following the torching of trash cans and vandalizing of city equipment, the Jerusalem municipality announced that it was suspending services to the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
It would appear that beside the odor of the burning trash cans, the residents of the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods will suffer mainly from the punishment they were given by the Jerusalem municipality. The municipality spokesman announced last night that the activity of the municipality’s various departments was being stopped in the Mea Shearim neighborhood. This was due to the public damage caused by the neighborhood’s residents, and due to the attacks on municipality workers by a number of Haredim.
Sources in the Haredi public say that last night’s rally actually marked the final chord of the struggle against evacuating the graves in Ashkelon. This is after the members of Atra Kadisha understood that due to correct police deployment and low responsiveness by the demonstrators, it would not be possible to prevent the work. However, the riots that started in Mea Shearim this week due to a Haredi detainee who is suspected of setting fire to a computer store will continue in the coming days due to the evacuation of the graves and due to the Haredim who were arrested in the course of the demonstrations in Jerusalem and Ashkelon.
Extremist Minority Imposing Terror
Yitzhak Tessler • Ma’ariv (p. 3)
Translation: Didi Remez • Coteret
The moderate ultra-Orthodox public breathed easy yesterday following the failure of the Atra Kadisha organization to prevent the evacuation of the ancient graves in Ashkelon.
Even when they believed that these were Jewish graves, Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar ruled that it was permissible to relocate the graves for the purpose of building a fortified emergency room, because the residents of Ashkelon are in a state of life-threatening danger due to Hamas’s Kassam rockets.
In the time that elapsed, the archeologists determined that these were apparently pagan graves, but the Atra Kadisha organization, which is subject to the authority of the Eda Haredit rabbis in Jerusalem, made it clear that there would be no compromise. Atra Kadisha drew encouragement from the fact that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman threatened to quit the government if the graves should be relocated. The pressure took its toll, and Rabbis Amar and Metzger backed down, in a move that astonished the national-religious public, and made it clear that their ruling was invalid.
On Saturday night, the signal was given for an extremist Haredi show of force: hundreds of Haredim from Mea Shearim and Beit Shemesh tried to infiltrate into Ashkelon in private vehicles, taxis and vans. The police, however, managed to prevent many of them from entering the city.
The moderate ultra-Orthodox public viewed this as proof that this was a small and marginal handful of people, who did not represent them and was unsuccessful in putting large-scale activities into motion. Extremist Haredim in Jerusalem, however, refused to yield, and moved the scene of the clashes to a more convenient venue for them—the Shabbat Square in Jerusalem. Last night, they vandalized municipality equipment and threw objects at passing cars.