3 injured in haredi riots in Jerusalem
Municipality worker, two other people hurt from stones thrown by ultra-Orthodox rioters in protest of arrest of woman suspected of starving toddler son. Welfare bureau workers evacuated as haredim hurl stones at building's windows. Meanwhile, Israel Electric Corp. says instructed not to provide services to violent neighborhoods
Among the injured was a Jerusalem Municipality sanitation worker, who sustained light wounds. According to the municipality, the haredim identified the workers by their clothing and stoned them because of they work for the city.
On Thursday afternoon, workers of the welfare bureau in Jerusalem's Geula neighborhood were evacuated from the office by the police after haredim hurled stones at the building's windows. There were no reports of injuries.
In the morning hours, the riots began spreading to other places in Jerusalem. Haredim hurled stones at the windows of the Education Ministry building on the capital's Dvora Hanevia Street.
On other streets, protestors hurled stone at police officers and set fire to trash cans. There were no reported of injuries or damage. The police also stopped dozens of haredim attempting to reach Jaffa Road in the center of the city.
Worker: It's a miracle we escaped alive
Zecharia Masharki, the sanitation worker injured by a stone hurled at him during the protest, told Ynet his car had been surrounded by religious youths upon his arrival at the Bar Ilan Junction along with another municipality worker.
"I suddenly saw each youth was carrying at least one stone. I told them we wanted to go back, but they began breaking our car. It's a miracle that we escaped in one piece. We went back to work and I told my manager about the incident. We didn't think we would come out alive. There were stones everywhere."
He added that the protestors had directed their anger at other municipality workers as well.
"Another driver with a municipality truck got stones in his head, and another car with our equipment was nearly destroyed. They broke all of its windows. Nine other Jerusalem Municipality workers were beaten.
"I don't know what they got out of this, what they gained. They nearly murdered people. We are disappointed. We give them the best service at the municipality and we're not causing them any damage."
Masharki. 'They broke our car' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Meanwhile, the Israel Electric Corporation said Thursday morning that if any of its workers encountered violence in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem where riots broke out recently, they would stop providing services to the residents.
Company officials told Ynet that they had received an instruction from the Jerusalem Police not to send their crews into neighborhoods in the capital where residents have been violently protesting the arrest of a haredi woman suspected of starving her son.
The Jerusalem Police denied issuing such an order.
Israel Electric Corp. officials admitted that the company workers had not been met with any acts of violence or disruption in those neighborhoods so far.
They clarified, however, that the announcement was made in order to warn the residents in light of attacks on police and municipality workers in haredi neighborhoods in the past few days.
The Electric Corp. later reported that a company crew arrived at a house on Jerusalem's Malchei Israel Street accompanied by police in order to repair a serious malfunction in the building's power system. Company officials said that decision was made due to pressure from the building's residents.
Bar Ilan Road, Thursday morning (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
On Wednesday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat ordered municipality workers to stop serving residents in the Geula and Mea Shearim neighborhoods, "so as not to risk the municipality workers' lives in the area."
The municipality said in a statement that "the services will not be provided until we are able to provide it without risking human life."
Barkat added that the municipality "regrets the damage caused to the area's residents who are uninvolved in the incidents taking place at this time, and hopes to resume its services to the residents as soon as possible."
Hospital: Child doesn't have cancer
Also Thursday, the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital rejected the haredi community's claims that the three-year-old child whose mother is suspected of starving him has cancer and had been undergoing chemotherapy.
"The child has not been diagnosed as a cancer patient and has not been receiving medications from the chemotherapy family," said Dr. Yair Birenboim, the hospital's deputy director-general.
According to Birnboim, the hospital's medical staff believes the child is suffering from malnutrition. "He is receiving an enriched diet, and I assume that once he recovers physically all the symptoms he has will pass. Within a few weeks, maybe even two or three months, he will be able to return to his family. We believe we saved his life."
Twenty-six haredi men were arrested in Wednesday's riots in the capital. The protestors called police officers "Nazis" and set fire to trash cans in several areas. Bar Ilan Road was partially closed to traffic. Mounted police and a water-sprinkling machine were used to disperse the riots.
The protest also spread outside Jerusalem, with some 100 haredim protesting and hurling stones in the city of Beit Shemesh. They were dispersed by a police force.
Tani Goldstein contributed to this report