Photo: Gil Yohanan
Mounted police dispatched to area
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Haredi riots in Shabbat Square
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Clashes ahead of court ruling on parade

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men riot in Jerusalem following attorney general's decision to approve gay pride parade. Protestors set fire to garbage bins, block roads and hurl stones at police officers; 20 detained. High Court to rule on issue Monday morning

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men rioted Sunday night in Jerusalem ahead of the High Court of Justice's ruling on whether to approve the gay pride parade, which is planned to take place in the capital Friday.


The Jerusalem Police detained 25 rioters so far, and large forces were dispatched to the area. Four police officers and a Haaretz photographer were lightly injured.


Jerusalem District Police Commander Ilan Franco is expected to meet Monday with representatives of the Open House for Pride and Tolerance in a bid to find a way to hold the parade, which will be accepted by both parties.


The violent wave of protest was resumed after Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided to approve the parade.


Harsh clashes erupted in the Meah Shearim neighborhood. The haredim hurled large stones at the police, and in response the police officers sprayed water at the rioters and mounted police were dispatched to the area.


Police officials reported that at least four of the detainees in Jerusalem hurled stones at police officers in the city, while others blocked a road.


The Jerusalem Border Guard spokeswoman was also attacked by haredim in the capital. The ultra-Orthodox men saw a police car, blocked it, tried to enter it and placed garbage bins on the route. The spokeswoman escaped unharmed.

Jerusalem streets on fire (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Attorney General Menachem Mazuz refused on Sunday to accept the police's position that the parade should not be held. He told senior police officials: "We have to make a decision – either we give in to threats or we deal with them. We have to exert efforts to find an equation so that it can be secured."


Mazuz added that "comprehensively giving in to threats is a threat to democracy, and therefore it is unthinkable not to hold the parade.


He sent Jerusalem District Police Commander to meet with Open House representatives in a bid to reach an understanding on a "modest parade."


Opposed to Mazuz's decision

The Jerusalem pride parade, a hot topic in recent days, became even hotter after the Open House appealed to the High Court of Justice, which is supposed to adjudicate on Zaka chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav's petition against the parade.


Meshi-Zahav claims that the parade will result in violence, and therefore may jeopardize public safety. The high court is, thus, left with the difficult choice between freedom of expression and public safety, and also left to determine whether the threat is one that police can handle.


Business mogul Arcadi Gaydamak slammed Mazuz for his support of the pride parade in Jerusalem, saying "it is a shame and a disgrace that Mazuz supports holding the parade in the capital."


"This only proves that everything here is according to his rules. Holding the parade in Jerusalem opposes family values and hurts people," he said.


"Everyone has the right to express themselves, but they need to know how to respect others. Not everyone is gay. There are other people, too," he added.


MK Yitzhak Levi (National Union-National Religious Party), leading the campaign against the pride parade, also censured the decision that "holding the parade at any price is likely to result in violence and damage to the fabric of the city." Levi called on Mazuz "to read the writing on the war and to change his mind before it's too late."


Aviram Zino contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 11.06.06, 00:53
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