Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox residents of Beit Shemesh staged a demonstration Tuesday evening outside a religious girls' school
in the city, in protest of the Education Ministry's decision to open the school near haredi neighborhoods.
Senior Beit Shemesh rabbis took part in the rally, in which participants called for "maintaining the purity of the haredi neighborhoods against strangers plotting to desecrate them, backed by the evil regime."
Beit Shemesh, Tuesday evening (Photo: Ben Kelmer)
In spite of the organizers' hopes that the protest would be attended by all haredi factions in Beit Shemesh, the only ones who arrived were the "extremists" identified with the struggle, as well as dozens of haredi children.
A group of parents of girls studying in the school gathered nearby in support of the institution's activity. A clash erupted between the parents and several young haredi men, and a police force separated between them.
Many children attend protest (Photo: Ben Kelmer)
A female journalist was assaulted by a small group of young protestors, who cursed and spat at her as well. Ushers on behalf of the rally's organizers and rabbis urged the young haredi men to maintain order and avoid clashes.
The protestors began the rally by reciting Psalms and Selichot prayers, followed by rabbis' calls for maintaining the city's identity.
over the school's activities has been going on for several weeks now, since the start of the school year. According to the students' parents, groups of radical haredim arrive at the school from time to time and swear at the girls.
Two haredi men were arrested this week on suspicion of throwing eggs and tomatoes at students. About two weeks ago, stones were hurled
at a boys' school belonging to the same educational network, injuring a student in the leg.
The national-religious, on their part, have decided to intimidate the haredim using watchdogs. A police force stationed near the school ordered the dog owners to clear the area.
The haredim are opposed to the girls' school due to its location, facing the windows of a haredi neighborhood. Efforts to reach an understanding between the haredi residents and the national-religious parents before the start of the school year failed.
According to the haredim, instead of solving the crisis over the building's location – the national-religious insisted on solving every single dispute between the sectors and bringing about "comprehensive peace", which led to an inevitable failure