The issue of women's exclusion is troubling the city of Beit Shemesh once again. A sign ordering women to avoid walking on a pavement at the Chazon Ish street has been removed at one woman's insistence.
Earlier on Wednesday, Beit Shemesh resident Nili Phillip filed a police complaint after noticing the sign. "The sign resembles one that was posted on the street in the past," Phillip said.
She is claiming that the sign was posted against the law and is proof that the city is ruled by anarchy. "This may come to bloodshed," she warned. "There is a direct correlation to recent attacks on women," she added referring to an incident where a woman was pelted with a stone for dressing immodestly.
The sign stating women should avoid sidewalk
Phillip herself was a victim of a similiar attack. "Women ask me why I care about the sign as it's a haredi district. My reply is that this is a main road leading to a shopping center. I once rode my bicycle near there and got a stone to the head by a haredi man," she recounted. "On other occasions I was spat on and name called."
The woman in front of Beit Shemesh police station
Mickey Gitzin, director-general of the Free Israel movement believes there has been no change in the fight against women's exclusion in Israel. "It's unfortunate to see that Israel's top politicians use the issue as a means to get headlines while no change was seen on the ground," he said. "Nevertheless, we have no intention of giving up and we shall keep fighting."
Several hours after Phillip's complaint was filed, the Beit Shemesh Municipality said in response, "The city has removed the sign many times. Each such step sparked riots and disorderly conduct. The city cannot handle this complex issue by itself. We call on the police and other law enforcement authorities to take action and end this shameful phenomenon."
The Municipality eventually removed the sign as well as another sign posted further down the road with the police's help.