ultra-Orthodox clash with police outside a religious seminary in Ashdod operating in violation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions
An ultra-Orthodox students clash with police outside a religious seminary in Ashdod that opened in violation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions
Photo: Israel Police
An ultra-Orthodox students clash with police outside a religious seminary in Ashdod that opened in violation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions

15 arrested as Haredi students riot against coronavirus regulations

At least 13 cops hurt in Ashdod clashes, while police use riot dispersal on crowd in Jerusalem; head of Viznitz Hassidic dynasty says flock must resume in-school learning, laments 'government failure' to understand importance of Torah study

Matan Zuri, Gilad Cohen |
Updated: 01.24.21 , 15:51
At least 15 people were arrested Sunday and 13 police officers were lightly injured when clashes broke out at a religious educational institution in Ashdod as police moved to prevent it from opening in violation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
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  • The same yeshiva was the scene of clashes between police and students last week after officers attempted to close during a previous violation of health regulations.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    ultra-Orthodox clash with police outside a religious seminary in Ashdod operating in violation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions
    ultra-Orthodox clash with police outside a religious seminary in Ashdod operating in violation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions
    An ultra-Orthodox students clash with police outside a religious seminary in Ashdod that opened in violation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    Hundreds of protesters arrived at the institution and tried to force their way inside despite the police presence, but were pushed back by officers.
    During last week's altercations, rioters blocked roads and attacked police with sticks and stones. Three police officers were wounded and 10 rioters arrested.
    Police clash with Haredi rioters outside an Ashdod yeshiva on Sunday
    Also Sunday, police tried to shut down a school in the ultra-Orthodox Mea She'arim neighborhood of Jerusalem, which was operating in violation of the lockdown restrictions in place since the start of the month.
    Hundreds of rioters clashed with police there, hurling different objects at the forces.
    Police attempted to disperse the rioters using non-lethal crowd control measures including the "skunk" cannon, which sprays protesters with a foul-smelling solution.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    מאה שערים
    מאה שערים
    Police use crowd dispersal measures in Jerusalem after clashes at a yeshiva operating in violation of health regulations
    (Photo: A. Cohen)
    On Saturday night, the leader of the Vizhnitz dynasty, the third-largest Hassidic sect in the country, announced his flock's schools would reopen on Sunday in contravention of the lockdown.
    Vizhnitz leader Rabbi Israel Hager is a member of the council of rabbis affiliated with the United Torah Judaism party, which is part of the government coalition.
    Hager had previously agreed to keep schools closed during lockdown, by on Saturday reversed his position, citing the need for religious study.
    "The government is ignoring the importance of Torah studies for us," he said, adding that religious learning was permitted in the United States and had actually contributed to a reduction in COVID-19 cases among the American Hassidic community.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Rabbi Israel Hager, head of the Vizhnitz Hassidic dynasty (holding a microphone) with members of his flock
    Rabbi Israel Hager, head of the Vizhnitz Hassidic dynasty (holding a microphone) with members of his flock
    Vizhnitz dynasty leader Rabbi Israel Hager (holding the microphone) addresses members of his flock
    (Photo: Moshe Mozrahi)
    Although he instructed his flock to refrain from violence, Hager said that if police turned up and demanded that schools close, they should be referred to his office.
    "The person in charge resides here," he told his followers.
    Last week, students at one of the Vizhnitz yeshivas assaulted two members of the police sitting in a car outside, shouting insults and calling the officers Nazis.
    One officer was hurt when stones were hurled at the vehicle.
    First published: 12:09 , 01.24.21
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