(VIDEO) Jerusalem riots: Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators burned garbage cans in Jerusalem and blocked roads on Friday, renewing unrest caused by their demand to free an ultra-Orthodox father, suspected of beating his son and killing him.
Crews from the Jerusalem Municipality who arrived at the scene to remove the blocks said they were attacked with stones and were forced to leave the area. Luckily, no one was injured.
What started as street notices and local organized gatherings turned into violent protests against the arrest of Israel Asher Valas, 19, an ultra-Orthodox man accused of manslaughter over the death of his three-month-old son.
Orthodox protest (Footage: Channel 2)
Senior Jerusalem Police District sources condemned the "wild behavior by the ultra-Orthodox and the road blockages in demand to release the suspect in the killing of his infant son."
Police officials said officers "would not allow disruptions of order and use the means at their disposal to prevent road blockages." Meanwhile, several rioters were detained by police.
Thursday evening, protestors set garbage carts on fire in the Shabbat plaza in Jerusalem and tried to block two streets. On Passover eve several hundred ultra-Orthodox demonstrated outside the police station demanding the release of the accused father.
Yehezkel Street was blocked to traffic by garbage carts that were set ablaze before police arrived at the scene. The rioters demanded the release of the father. Later, dozens of Orthodox arrived at the Shivtei Israel (Tribes of Israel) street and blocked with burning garbage cans.
Meanwhile, dozens of police officers, mounted forces, and Border Guard troops deployed nearby, armed with water cannons.
Earlier, Valas' family turned to leading rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and asked for help. "If indeed your version is correct we need to act on the matter," the rabbi said. The family also turned to Knesset members and the mayor of Jerusalem, seeking help.
Fire in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The infant’s mother told confidants that the attitude towards her and her husband is stained with discrimination: “The only problem is that we are Haredi and not Arabs, and therefore their behavior toward us is cruel. It's a blood libel before Pesach. He is a yeshiva student and a gentle husband and there is no way he did this.”
Regarding police accusations that he threw the baby to the wall and shook it violently, the mother said, “He shook him in order to calm him down and not in an abusive manner. He was hysteric that the baby couldn’t breath and tried to shake him but not in the manner they ascribe to him.”
An ultra-Orthodox source told Ynet: "At first we were quiet because his lawyer said it would interfere. Now they decided that he was wrong and on Sunday they will start with fierce demonstrations across the country."
Meanwhile, giant notices were posted in haredi neighborhoods, both in Hebrew and English, regarding a "blood libel". Protest organizers vowed to hold demonstrations in the U.S. as well.
"The notices posted in the streets are inflaming our public and saying this is not a private matter, but rather, persecution of the entire community," a haredi source said.
When the toddler was confirmed dead, announcements by senior ultra-Orthodox spiritual figures were hung in synagogues across Jerusalem. Rabbi Yitzhak Weiss harshly criticized the arrest of the father.
“Here we have a terrible incident where they falsely accuse a dear and deeply observant yeshiva student using lies, libel and dishonoring his name by accusing him of killing his son,” one announcement read.
Efrat Weiss contributed to the story