Clashes broke out Thursday morning in Beit Shemesh between police and some 350 locals who are members of the anti-Zionist haredi Neturei Karta faction, who tried to prevent officers from evacuating the body of a nine-year-old boy who died under unclear circumstances.
Following the incident hundreds of haredi protestors began rioting and torching trash cans in the Shabbat Square area in Jerusalem.
The body was eventually evacuated after a doctor who examined it determined an autopsy wasn't required. The boy will be buried at 5 pm on Thursday.
Hundreds of haredim opposing the autopsy prevented police from evacuating the body thus far. (Shmulik Grossman and Ronen Medzini)
The unrest began when Magen David Adom emergency teams arrived to treat a boy in one of the houses in the Heftziba neighborhood in Beit Shemesh. During resuscitation efforts hundreds of people began to gather near the house and started attacking the MDA units. It was reported they hurled stones at the medical vehicles.
Police sources said that the boy's death does not appear to have occurred under criminal circumstances, however it was decided to take the body for an autopsy at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute. The Neturei Karta members tried to prevent the autopsy out of respect for the dead.
Beit Shemesh police eventually reached an agreement with the protestors according to which a doctor will hold superficial examination of the body at the house in order to confirm the boy died of a heart attack in his sleep.
Police detaining one of the rioters (Photo: Noam Moskowitz)
A Zaka rescue team member at the scene told Ynet that the protestors kicked one of the police officers, causing a fracure in his ribs, and noted the turbulent atmosphere at the site. The protestors, on their part, claimed that a police officer hit one of them.
A passerby told Ynet that police resorted to using tear-gas against the rioters and that protestors shattered the window shields of 10 police cars. He noted it would be extremely hard to evacuate the body if such a decision was made.
It was further reported that the protestors punctured the tires of police and Chevra Kadisha vehicles.
Two rioters were arrested during the event.
'Appalled by violence'
Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul arrived at the scene in an effort to calm matters, and after extensive efforts managed to reach an agreement together with ZAKA elements to remove the body.
Jerusalem MDA Spokesman Danny Rotenberg told Ynet, "Magen David Adom emergency services are appalled by the terrible violence directed at the team, which only a short while ago tried to resuscitate the boy, and whose only crime was to try to issue a death certificate."
Several incidents of clashes between police and ultra-Orthodox groups have been recorded recently following attempts to perform autopsies.
Last February a group of haredim kidnapped the body of woman found in an abandoned building in Mea Shearim in order to prevent police from evacuating it.
In August dozens of haredim rioted in Jerusalem following the murder of a 51-year-old man who was stabbed to death. The rioters hurled stones and iron bars at police officers who responded with shock grenades.