אלפים מפגינים בבני ברק
Hundreds block roads in Bnei Brak in protest of government's coronavirus measures
Hundreds block roads in Bnei Brak in protest of government's coronavirus measures

Hundreds riot in Bnei Brak in protest of coronavirus measures

Protesters block roads, hurl rocks at police after string of crackdowns on synagogues, educational institutions stokes tensions between Haredi factions and law enforcement; officer fires warning shot in air after becoming surrounded by large crowds

Matan Zuri, Gilad Cohen, Itay Blumenthal |
Published: 01.24.21 , 17:41
Hundreds of members of the extremist ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemite Faction blocked roads in the city Bnei Brak on Sunday in protest of the government's coronavirus measures.
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  • Protest leaders defined it as an action against what they deemed as "the government's decision to restrict the movement of the ultra-Orthodox public in any way possible while using violent and tyrannical methods reserved for regimes we thought passed from the world."
    Hundreds block roads in Bnei Brak in protest of government's coronavirus measures
    (Video: Meshi Ben Ami)
    A police statement said that during clashes with protesters, one of the officers felt threatened as he was surrounded by protesters and fired a single gunshot in the air as a warning.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    אלפים מפגינים בבני ברק
    אלפים מפגינים בבני ברק
    Hundreds block roads in Bnei Brak in protest of government's coronavirus measures
    "During operational activity to enforce coronavirus regulations in the city of Bnei Brak, local residents began gathering around policemen en masse while hurling stones at them," the statement read. "The policemen felt their lives were in danger and therefore one of the policemen fired in the air."
    Police officer fires warning shot during protest against coronavirus measures in Bnei Brak
    (Video: Meni Rafael)
    The massive protest in the ultra-Orthodox city follows a host of police crackdowns on unauthorized gatherings at synagogues and Haredi educational institutions.
    Police cracking down on protesters in Beni Brak
    (Video: Locals)
    At least 15 people were arrested earlier 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.
    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.
    4 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.
    4 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.
    4 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.
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