Riots erupted Tuesday evening on the streets of two predominantly ultra-Orthodox communities after police broke up two massive illegal weddings, just hours after Israel announced it was tightening its coronavirus lockdown.
The weddings took place in the city of Bnei Brak and the settlement of Beitar Illit, which has 24% COVID-19 infection rate and currently tops the list of "red", virus-hit cities.
The wedding in Beitar Illit was organized for the son of a rebbe from the Toldot Avraham Hasidim, one of the most extreme Hasidic factions, and was attended by hundreds of people.
Police officers who arrived at the scene following reports of a mass event, at first couldn't enter the event hall, which had a lock on the doors.
Upon entering, the Rebbe was asked to disperse the event, but in response he offered police officers wine, who allowed the mass event to continue, with hundreds of attendees dancing and singing in a confined space with no social distancing or face masks.
The police later came back with reinforcements and managed to disperse the wedding, which resulted in clashes between the officers and local residents.
"While the police forces were dispersing the guests, dozens began to gather outside the hall, disrupting the public order, confronting the forces, throwing stones at police vehicles, causing damage," said the police in a statement.
Border Police Commander Kobe Shabtai later instructed for the officers to be removed from their posts.
In Bnei Brak, a large wedding also took place. The event was attended by hundreds of guests and was held at a construction site that was being renovated in blatant violation of Health Ministry's guidelines and safety regulations.
The police asked the guests to disperse, issued fines and summoned the organizer of the event for questioning. The owner of the construction site, who was warned about staging mass events at the premises just hours earlier, was fined NIS 5,000.
The owner of the building claimed he "did not know" the event was taking place at the site.