Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Photo: Gil Yochanan

Beit Shemesh: Haredim rally against elections

About 30 ultra-Orthodox forcefully removed from Beit Shemesh voting after they urge people not to vote; Rabbi Ovadia Yosef votes in Jerusalem, surrounded by dozens who ask for his blessing

About 30 ultra-Orthodox men were forcefully removed from a voting station in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, after demonstrating against the elections.


Police officers dispatched to the area, were forced to remove the haredim after they refused to leave. One of the protestors was detained for interrogation.


In recent days extremists within the ultra-Orthodox community have been calling for a boycott of the elections; they even distributed a leaflet for children explain why voting in the elections is forbidden, by claiming Zionists obstructed the rescue of Jews in the Shoah in order to promote the foundation of the Jewish state.


Sources in the ultra-Orthodox street attributed the leaflet to "the haredi congregation," a faction that does not believe in the state and the Zionist entity.


The Shas party, on the other hand, is urging its voters to flock to voting stations and exercise their democratic right. The party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was one of the first to cast his vote in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood, after which he said voting was a ‘mitzvah.’


'Number of mandates isn’t important'


Dozens of people, including voting station monitors and even police officers surrounded the rabbi and asked for his blessing.


Shas Chairman Eli Yishai, who accompanied Yosef to the polling station, said “the polls regarding Shas are encouraging, but we must not believe them. We are a party that is above the polls.”


Fearing low voter turnout, Shas is activating dozens of phone operators that will attempt to urge supporters to go out and vote, with the objective being at least 11 Knesset seats, the current number of Shas representatives in the Knesset.


“The number of mandates isn’t important, but rather their influence; meaning, will Shas be a deciding factor in the formation of a new government,” a party member said.


Efrat Weiss contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 03.28.06, 10:32
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