Violent night in Jerusalem: Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox protestors clashed with police near Highway 1 in the capital Thursday night, hurling stones at security forces and wounding at least 18 officers lightly. Meanwhile, at least six protestors were lightly hurt.
Fifty rioters were either detained or held for questioning, as ultra-Orthodox protestors blocked Highway 1 in Jerusalem, near the Beit Israel neighborhood. Police were using water cannons to disperse the crowds and reopen the road.
Wounded haredi protestor (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
At one point, rioters hurled stones at mounted police and used red lasers to blind officers. Elsewhere, dozens of haredim hurled firecrackers at policemen.
Later Thursday, dozens of rioters attempted to block Bar-Ilan Road in the capital, while protestors on Yosef Karo street poured oil on the road, causing a mounted police officer to slip. The policeman was not hurt in the incident.
Three of the wounded police officers were taken to Hadassah Mount Scopus hospital after sustaining head and face wounds as result of the stone-throwing. Meanwhile, the protesters who were wounded were evacuated for treatment at Shaare Zedek medical center
Meanwhile, about 100 haredi protestors in Beit Shemesh blocked a street in town, before police officers were called in to restore order.
Will Peres get involved?
Earlier in the evening, roughly 1,500 ultra-Orthodox protestors gathered at Jerusalem's Shabbat Square in order to pray in protest of the so-called "starving mother's" arrest.
Police forces have been deployed at the scene in an effort to prevent riots.
Large forces, including many mounted police officers, were deployed earlier in the evening, while medical teams and firefighters were put on high alert. Police received information indicating that haredi protesters plan to head out of their neighborhoods en masse and have deployed in an effort to prevent them from doing so.
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres is looking into the possibility of intervening in order to end the riots. Peres reportedly instructed his aides to turn to all parties involved in the conflict and embark on initial contacts.
Addressing the so-called "starving mother" affair in a press briefing earlier, Jerusalem District Police Commander Aharon Franco said investigators had "decisive evidence" in the case.
The senior police officer also charged that rabbis have not done enough to contain ultra-Orthodox riots in Jerusalem over the arrest of the mother, who allegedly starved her son.
"I have not heard an outcry by rabbis or dignitaries calling for an end to the riots," he said.
Meanwhile, the most militant haredim are vowing to fight to the bitter end.
"We expect logic and justice to prevail, and that the police will back off and release the woman," warned Shmuel Papenheim, a spokesman for the radical Eda Haredit faction. "We are ready to fight at any moment until our last drop of blood."