Haredim fought with police and hurled bottles of water, garbage, hot coffee, rocks eggs, chairs and other objects at the Women of the Wall worshippers. They also spit on the women and children with Women of the Wall and screamed insults and slurs at them.
Last updated at 6:55 am CDT. Photo added along with refernce to eggs and chairs being thrown at 4:58 pm CDT.
Haredim Riot At The Kotel
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
It was, Israeli media says, a "mass brawl."
This morning, thousands of haredim sent by their rabbis to the Kotel (Western Wall) to protest Women of the Wall’s first legal prayer service with tallits (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries) there rioted.
Haredim tried to physically assault Women of the Wall Worshippers but were blocked by police, who were out in force in anticipation of haredi violence.
Haredim fought with police and hurled bottles of water, garbage, hot coffee, rocks, eggs, chairs and other objects at the Women of the Wall worshippers. They also spit on the women and children with Women of the Wall and screamed insults and slurs at them.
A bus carrying Women of the Wall members to the Kotel was reportedly stoned by a haredi mob.
Yizhar Hess, the director of the Conservative Movement in Israel, was also stoned by haredim. He was not injured.
Haredim rioted during and after Women of the Wall's prayer service and reportedly stoned Women of the Wall members and supporters outside the Kotel plaza as they tried to leave when the prayer service concluded.
At least five haredim were arrested in the riots.
Two police officers were reported lightly injured.
"I hope that ahead of next month a new arrangement will be found. It's not pleasant to see the Wall like that, it's like a battlefield," Jerusalem Police Commander Yossi Parienti told Ha'aretz.
Thousands of haredi men wearing tallits surrounded about 200 Women of the Wall members and supporters as they tried to pray. Riot police had to forcibly restrain the haredim to
allow the Women of the Wall prayer service to continue.
At the request of haredi leaders Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, thousands of female haredim, mostly teenage seminary students, also flooded the site to try to crowd out Women of the Wall and stop their prayer service. Shteinman also reportedly told haredi activists there was "no need" for violence or provocative behavior by haredim. Many haredim, however, did not heed Shteinman's advice.
The haredi Deputy Mayor of Jeruslaem Isaac Pindar of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism party called Women of the Wall, "the women of provocation." Pindar also said that the thousands of haredi girls and women who came to the Kotel this morning were "the true women of the wall,” Ynet reported.
He also said that the "problem" with Women of the Wall should be evident to "any sane person."
"The problem with Women of the Wall is the same problem any sane person
would have if they heard that 20 yeshiva students had gotten up and
entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to conduct a monthly prayer
service. It is the same problem that every sane person in the State of
Israel [would have] having seen people barbecuing on Holocaust
Remembrance Day," he said. "This is an emotional issue, the Western Wall
is a holy place, a place with a tradition of thousands of years and
this is a provocation. I hope that those who see, will see the pain,
will see everything that is going on and bring this thing to an end," Pindar told Ha'aretz.
The Kotel’s haredi rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowich, blamed the riot on Women of the Wall.
“[A compromise was put in place by a High Court of Justice ruling over a decade ago, but] a small group nevertheless decided to start the argument all over,” Rabinowich said.
However, as the District Court noted in its ruling earlier this month, the High Court’s ruling was not implemented by the government or by Rabinowich.
The head of the Reform Movement in Israel Rabbi Gilad Kariv was at the Kotel during the riot. He said haredi leaders "desecrated the sanctity" of the Kotel by staging today’s protest.
The idea to send haredi school girls to protest the Women of the Wall was reportedly concocted by Members of Knesset from the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism party and principals of haredi girls schools, and was approved by Ashkenazi haredi leader Shteinman yesterday.
Natan Sharansky, the Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel who was tasked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with finding a workable compromise solution to the Kotel prayer issue, said the riot shows a sustainable solution is urgently needed, and that the clashes and riot strongly reinforces the need to allow any Jew, group of Jews or Jewish community to pray at the Kotel according to their own customs, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Sharansky also reportedly praised police for the appropriate and level-headed action under extremely complicated circumstances.
Haredi leaders who organized today's protest warned that another larger protest will be held next month unless Women of the Wall is banned from praying at the Kotel.
"This time Rabbi Ovadia [Yosef] and Rabbi [Aharon Leib] Shteinman will
not only call on others to demonstrate, they will come to the Kotel
themselves," one haredi leader reportedly threatened.
Comedian Sarah Silverman's sister Rabbi Susan Silverman told the Jerusalem Post that she and her three daughters were praying with Women of the Wall when haredi men spit gobs of saliva on her daughters. She also said that a little girl next to her was hit in the head with a hard object thrown by haredim, and that coffee was thrown at women around them.
“[The haredi protesters and rioters represent] a fundamentalism and a belief in a single and very narrow view of God that I believe is idolatrous,” Silverman told the Post.