“I witnessed unprecedented violence here toward people who were merely on their way to buy fish, fruits and vegetables,” the haredi man continued, “but the police officers treated them like common criminals.”
During the rally Jerusalem police detained 16 haredim for questioning, under suspicion for rioting and throwing stones; demonstrators threw metal bars, tear gas, stones and eggs.
A police officer was injured in the face from an unidentified burning agent thrown on him by haredi protesters, and another officer sustained light to moderate wounds from a rock that struck him in the face. Police received intelligence information Thursday night of an intention by haredi protestors to injure Franco in his head with a rock. Franco was standing nearby the officer that was injured
A photographer was also injured from a stone hurled at him by demonstrators, and later in the evening four more officers were injured by stones.
Photo: Gil Yochanan
The haredi added that, “the police officers enjoy seeing blood, they are thirsty for it; there is no other explanation for the events. Franco knows the parade will not take place, so why doesn’t the police act with courage and decide to cancel this ridiculous parade?”
Harsh accusations were made over the police officers’ conduct during this the third consecutive day of ultra-Orthodox protests in the capital. Large police forces are operating in the Me’a Shearim and Beit Yisrael neighborhoods, with officers using water cannons to disperse the crowd.
“Is there any reason for pride here,” the haredi told Ynet. “People can act freely within the confines of their own homes. Pride is when a man has a Normal family and raises children.”
Jerusalem Police Chief Franco, for his part, said that "the struggle of the haredim to cancel the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem has begun."
'Why must it be held in Jerusalem?'
According to him, "we met with some of the rabbis and the leaders of the haredi public in the city and we clarified the police's position. We called on them to respect the court's decision and not act violently." Franco added that the decision on whether to authorize the parade will be given early next week.
“There is an attempt here to balance the freedom of expression with the police’s obligation to act in order to maintain order and prevent violence.”
Protesting in Me'a Shearim (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
Asked whether there remains a chance the parade will eventually be authorized despite the recent events, Franco said, “There is both a theoretical and a substantial chance. We are gathering intelligence and conducting investigations; based on this we will reach a decision and make our recommendation to our commanders so they may reach their final decision on the matter.”
Another Jerusalem resident told Ynet: “The rabbis won’t tell their followers to throw stones, but there are those who do as they please. Members of all the haredi sects believe that this parade is a catastrophe for Jerusalem. This parade cannot be permitted, it can bring about disasters. It’s as if the parade organizers are saying, ‘We’ll specifically do what G-D is forbidding us to’.”
“Personally I’m against throwing stones,” he continued. “Seeing an officer injured is heartbreaking, but the haredim are angry over the fact that the parade is not being called off. Why must it be held in Jerusalem?”
Efrat Weiss contributed to the report