Saturday: Haredim set fire to J'lem
Escalating tide of anti-pride riots sees hundreds of haredim setting fire to just about everything throughout streets of Jerusalem, throwing rocks and firecrackers at inter-city traffic and attacking policemen. Six youths arrested overnight, police to announce position on parade Sunday
"The Nazis are coming, run!" was the catchphrase of the night, with haredi youths warning each other in Yiddish of advancing police officers trying to restore order to central Jerusalem.
The Shabat Square was yet again the staging area for Saturday's riots as Israel's ultra orthodox community takes its protest of the upcoming pride parade up a notch. Haredim set fire to large garbage containers and bus stops, uprooted a traffic light, threw firecrackers and rocks at inter-city traffic along routes one and four, damaged several police cars by stretched metal cables across streets and pelting them with rocks.
Jerusalem police arrested four haredi youths after they overturned a garbage container onto the street near the Shabat Square, forcing policemen out of their squad car to be met with a hail of rocks. Two additional haredi youths were arrested in Herzl boulevard for setting bus stops on fire.
Riots in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
J'lem police chief: It's gone too far
The police are expected to announce their decision regarding the future of the parade on Sunday. Jerusalem police chief, Maj. Gen. Ilan Franco, stated that further deliberations are expected Sunday morning and afternoon. Police commissioner Moshe Karadi will weigh in on the matter. A senior source in the Jerusalem police spoke with Ynet and divulged that if the situation remains as it is, the police will recommend the parade, in its current venue, be cancelled and moved to an enclosed space.
On Friday posters were hung in a number of synagogues around the capital with harsh invectives aimed at Franco. One slogan charged that he was the grandson of notorious SS officer in Treblinka Franz Stangl. Police said they viewed the offenses with severity and opened an investigation into the matter. Maj. Gen. Franco addressed the issue: "I see it as worthy only of my contempt. We won't be intimidated, we will do our job with integrity devoid of corruption. Speaking of things one Jew does not do to his fellow Jew, then this is one of the things."
Speaking to reporters on Saturday Franco said that he had sent a clear message to haredi leaders following Thursday's events, saying that "the reasonable borders have been crossed." Franco emphasized however that there was no deal between the police and the haredi community. He says that following intelligence information hundreds of police officers, uniformed and undercover, have spread out throughout the haredi streets with riot dispersal means.
Asked what will happen if the High Court of Justice orders the parade continue as planned in Jerusalem, Franco said "We're still in the preliminary phase. We've constructed and studied many scenarios. The High Court will have to put this to the test of near certain bloodshed. I'm very much aware of the issue of balancing freedom of speech and public safety, at the end of the day I see only the safety of the parade goers and protestors.
Should the police decide to revoke their authorization for the parade they will be required to provide their explanations to the High Court in writing this afternoon. Even if the police do decide to authorize the parade, they will be able to go back on their decision 48 hours after announcing it. This in the event of changes to the current intelligence based assessment of the risk at hand.