Haredim resume Shabbat protests: Hundreds of people rallied in the capital Saturday, clashing with police and trying to block a Jerusalem road to protest the opening of the Karta parking lot on Shabbat.
Police officials estimated that some 800 people were protesting at the site by 6 pm. Some protestors yelled "Nazis" at police officers facing them. Other demonstrators dubbed a female journalist at the site "shiksa."
Most protestors and police officers left the area by 8:30 pm.
Police vs. haredim (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The protestors, who are members of the ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit sect, also demanded that HaNevi'im Street in the capital be closed to traffic on Shabbat.
Police forces deployed en masse in the area and were able to prevent the road from being blocked. However, violent clashes quickly ensued as protestors hurled stones, water balloons and garbage bags at police officers and journalists and chanted "Shabbes."
At one point, mounted police were called to the area in an effort to disperse the demonstrators and push them back to their neighborhoods. Undercover police officers were also sent to the site and detained at least one suspect on suspicion of assaulting police.
Eda Haredit leaders urged their followers to hit the streets Saturday to mark 100 Shabbats of protest, two years after the Jerusalem city hall opened the parking lot to the public on Saturdays.
Police commander Eli Kazari said the protest was legitimate, stressing that forces deployed ahead of time in order to prevent HaNevi'im Street from being blocked by the demonstrators.
"Senior rabbis arrived at the site. The protest was conducted relatively peacefully, yet upon the rabbis' departure the violence grew and was accompanied by stone-throwing," he said.
In the past month, Jerusalem residents reported violent assaults by haredim while traveling on HaNevi'im Street on Shabbat. Saturday's protest also drew some seculars, who arrived at the site to protest against what they characterized as "haredi thuggery."
Clashes in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Secular protester Yisrael Safra told Ynet he arrived to ensure that the street remains open.
"Haredim are trying to close the road via fear-mongering and violence, and we shall not remain silent," he said.
Tensions have been high in Jerusalem for the past week, after six police officers were hurt during riots in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood. The violence followed a debt collection operation in the area by the tax authority and Jerusalem city hall.
Inspectors, accompanied by large police forces, raided several businesses in the neighborhood whose owners were suspected of tax evasion. Three business owners were detained in the operation.
Haredi sources accused police of staging a needless provocation and said the massive deployment was unnecessary. The detainees included prominent Eda Haredit figures, interrogated over suspected tax offenses.