Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef on Monday condemned riots that took place in Bnei Brak a day earlier over the enforcement of coronavirus orders, calling the rioters "youth on the fringes".
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox extremists were clashing with police over the enforcement of the restrictions and crackdowns on unauthorized gatherings at synagogues and Haredi educational institutions. At some point, the rioters boarded a city bus and set it on fire.
"Their way is not the way of the Torah. We are all sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and we are all commanded to 'love your neighbor as yourself," he said in a direct appeal to those involved in the events.
"Certainly there is no justification for such serious acts. Those who do such deeds in the name of the Torah, they desecrate heavens."
Rabbi Yossef said those who took part in the riots must be "disavowed" by society. He urged the welfare services to "take care" of them and their educators to "teach them manners".
He, nevertheless, said the youth who took part in the riots are "a minority" and urged the police to show restraint because "we are brotherly people."
"It is a sacred duty of the mayors and the welfare authorities in the city of Bnei Brak to enlist in the immediate care of these youths, who after all are part of our flesh. They are of course a minority that tarnishes the image of the entire ultra-Orthodox public, most of whom are far removed form such behavior."