Six police officers were hurt Wednesday during haredi riots in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood. A joint Tax Authority-Jerusalem Municipality operation saw inspectors raiding local business whose owners were suspected of tax evasion. Police provided security.
Three business owners were arrested and their assets confiscated. Ultra-Orthodox elements accused the police of unnecessary provocation and claimed their deployment was disproportionate. Dozens of haredim rioted following the arrest and set trash cans on fire.
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The police raid prompted riots involving hundreds of haredim who hurled eggs, empty bottles and iron bars at the officers. They also torched several trash cans and spilled oil on the road. Several police cars were damaged as a result and six police officers were hurt. One officer required medical attention after a stone hit his head.
Mea Shearim during raid (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Later in the evening, the rioters blocked one road using a trash can they torched and smashed the windows of an Egged bus. Police prevented them from blocking Route 1.
Police forces used two shock grenades and water canons to disperse the rioters. Five were arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, including a photographer working for the haredi news agency 24 News.
Two of the detainees, prominent figures within the haredi community, were questioned about tax evasion allegations involving a slaughterhouse.
Haredi elements accused the police of needless provocation whose sole purpose was to showcase the police's long reach. They claimed there was only minor resistance by the locals and that police deployment was disproportionate.
Some ultra-Orthodox elements estimated that the aim of the raid was to trace the funding sources of one Eda Haredit group dubbed the Sicarii. One of the detainees is considered this group's leader.
Yair Altman contributed to this report
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