Meir Porush, ultra-Orthodox candidate
Photo: AFP

Election violence: Haredim riot in Jerusalem

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews clash with police on municipal election day as haredim try to prevent voters from getting through. Officer, security guard lightly injured in two separate incidents

Elections for local authorities continued across Israel Tuesday afternoon with most of the nation's eyes on Jerusalem, where things are heating up.


Tuesday afternoon dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews tried to prevent voting at the Beit Israel neighborhood ballot in Jerusalem, apparently following disputes between different ultra-Orthodox groups.


Police and Border Guard police officers arrived at the scene to clear the rioters, and clashes broke out as the ultra-Orthodox began throwing stones, leaving one officer with light head injuries. The officer was taken to hospital for treatment, and one of the stone-throwers was detained for questioning.


Later, another altercation developed in the capital near a polling station on Yermiyahu Street. The clash pitted a group of ultra-Orthodox residents who object to the elections against Haredi voters who support the democratic process.


A civilian security guard who waded in to break up the fight was lightly wounded and evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Hospital for treatment. Police were called to the scene and eventually dispersed the crowd.


Police reinforcements deployed

Before ballots were even opened in Jerusalem, most of the ballots in the city's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods were labeled "sensitive" and police reinforcements, including undercover officers, were deployed to prevent forgeries, attempts to influence voters and attempts to prevent voters from getting through.


Police will remain alert until the polling stations close at 10 pm and beyond, in order to prevent attempts to disrupt the votes being transferred to Safra Square, where they will be counted. Police will also be deployed around the various parties' headquarters during result time.


Tuesday's haredi clash with police was not the only election-related unusual incident to occur in the capital. Seven Arab residents of east Jerusalem were also arrested on Tuesday on Salah al-Din Street under suspicions of intimidating vendors to join the partial commerce strike held in protest of the democratic process.


The race in Jerusalem is tight between ultra-Orthodox candidate MK Meir Porush and businessman Nir Barkat.


By 6 pm local time, some 28% of Jerusalem residents exercised their democratic right to vote. In Tel Aviv, where current Mayor Ron Huldai and Knesset Member Dov Khenin (Hadash) are running for the mayor, voter turnout was recorded at 21.5%.


פרסום ראשון: 11.11.08, 17:33
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