A radical ultra-Orthodox mob encircled Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's car as he left the neighborhood of Ezrat Torah where he visited a prominent rabbi. Stones were thrown at his car, which was damaged in the incident. Barkat managed to leave the neighborhood after the police stepped in with reinforcements to escort his entourage out.
The incident occurred on Hana Street in Jerusalem where the mayor made a "personal visit" to a prominent rabbi who invited him to talk. The Jerusalem Municipality reported, "A radical group of haredim threw stones at his car, damaging the vehicle, and surrounded it."
Clash next to Barkat's car (Photo: Eli Segal)
According to the municipality, "The police, who escorted Barkat, needed to call for backup. Minutes later, they successfully cleared the way for the mayor."
Barkat himself responded to the incident: "I will not succumb to violence, and whoever thinks he will make strides through violence and bullying is incorrect."
The United Torah Judaism faction harshly condemned the attack. "The UTJ faction harshly condemns the attack against the mayor who made a courtesy call of respect to the holy rabbi from Kalin at his residence in Shikun Chabad. Violence is not the way of the Torah," the haredi faction said in a statement.
Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (UTJ) expressed his dismay at the violent incident. "I am simply shocked by those who think they observe the holy Sabbath and yet forgot that it says in the Ten Commandments, 'Thou shall not steal.' The Torah teaches us that it is forbidden to cause damage with one's money, and certainly with one's body," he told Ynet.
The mayor has recently evoked the anger of the ultra-Orthodox community for allowing two of the city's parking lots
to remain open on Saturday in order to ease the parking problem in the city. In recent weeks, haredim have protested,
sometimes violently, on the weekends.
Dozens of haredim were arrested at the height of the protests for attacking policemen, throwing stones, and causing damage. A few weeks ago, the municipality also received veiled threats in an email sent to Barkat and his deputy.
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report