Tempers in Beit Shemesh ran high Monday, following the growing demand to crack down on radical religious elements that are demanding stricter enforcement of segregation
between the sexes in the city.
The City of Beit Shemesh and the local police force announced that they will install 300-400 security cameras throughout the city in an attempt to fight radical religious individuals who are harassing women and girls.
The expected enforcement efforts – especially in the city's Hayarden Street, which was the scene of several attacks against women – prompted hundreds of haredim to gather in porters of the future policing measures.
Some of the haredim clashed with police forces. One officer sustained mild injuries after he was stoned by rioters. He was treated on site and two suspects were arrested.
TV camera crews from Channel 2 and Channel 10, which arrived at the religious neighborhood, were mobbed by the crowd. A photojournalist covering the protest was also attacked. The police arrested three suspects.
While many in Beit Shemesh said they hopped the camera will be posted to boost public safety, there were those who doubted Mayor Moshe Abutbul would see the plan through.
Rioting in Beit Shemesh (Photo: AP)
"Anyone who thinks the cameras will be set up is wrong," City Opposition member Motti Cohen told Ynet. "There's no way a haredi mayor would install such cameras in the haredi neighborhoods.
"This move is purely for show and I'm afraid that the way things are going, many of us will never be able to have the life we want in this city."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai
condemned the violence saying that the acts in question were "perpetrated by radical elements and should be condemned by everyone in the haredi community… There isn't one rabbi who would support such acts," he said.
Yishai urged Abutbul to act against the phenomenon, saying that "all relevant government bureaus will do everything in their power to deal with this phenomenon."
Yoav Malka and Yair Altman contributed to this report