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Jerusalem this evening
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Haredi rioters in the late afternoon
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Jerusalem haredi riots spread to Beit Shemesh
Ultra-Orthodox riots continue over arrest of mother suspected of starving her son for years. Hundreds take to streets, hurl rocks at security forces, set trash bins on ablaze. District Police Chief Franco: 'We're responding to the violence, we're working to restore order'

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men are continuing to riot in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening. The riots began in protest of the arrest of a mother suspected of having starved her toddler son. Garbage bins were torched in several locations and the rioters are hurling rocks at security forces and yelling "Nazis" at them. Bar Ilan Street has been partially closed off to traffic.

 

Police have deployed reinforcements, including officers mounted on horseback. Water hoses are also being used to disperse the crowd. Throughout the day a total of 26 ultra-Orthodox rioters were arrested.

 

The protest has also spread to outside Jerusalem. More than a hundred haredim began rioting in Beit Shemesh in the evening, are also hurling rocks. Police have been alerted to the scene and are working to disperse them.

Jerusalem District Police Chief Aharon Franco is closely monitoring the efforts to, as he said, "restore order to Jerusalem." Franco said that Jerusalem police have deployed in great numbers to deal with the situation.

 

"I hope the calm can be restored. There are a lot of residents here that are suffering because of a handful of troublemakers. It's wrong for everyone to be blaming the police, right now the police are dealing with the riots, we're responding to the violence."

 

Following the riots Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat ordered all city services to the Meah Shearim and Geola haredi neighborhoods suspended "in an attempt to prevent the threat posed to municipal employees in the area".

 

The Jerusalem Municipality said that the services will not be renewed "until such time that providing them will not entail risking human life." The mayor said he regretted the harm done to those who had not participated in the uprising, and that he hoped services would be renewed soon.

 

In a hearing held earlier in the day at the Jerusalem District Court, the head of the special investigation team said of the reactions to the mother's arrest: "There were tactics here befitting organized crime. Doctors, police officers and witnesses were all threatened."

 

Police are continuing to collect testimonies from doctors who treated the toddler, who is currently hospitalized at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital for severe malnutrition. Experts have posited that the woman in question suffers from Munchausen by proxy. Welfare officials suspicious that she may be actively harming her son set up cameras in the boy's hospital room, allowing the investigators to catch the mother on tape disconnecting the child's feeding tube. Investigators believe she starved the three-year-old till he reached a horrifying 7 kilograms (about 15 pounds).

 

The mother's arrest has been remanded till Friday. She has additional children, and is pregnant.

 

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