Hundreds of protesters gathered Sunday afternoon in the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem for an Eda Haredit rally.
The rally was held in protest of the arrest of six haredim who are suspected of carrying out tax offenses involving millions of shekels. Among those arrested was Amram Shapira, the personal assistant of the leader of the Eda, Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss.
Shapira was eventually released from custody after the Jerusalem Magistrates' Court said there was no evidence against him.
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In Beit Shemesh two people were arrested after dozens of residents gathered to demonstrate. Some poured oil on the road in order to prevent cars from passing.
Earlier, more than 30 rabbis from the Eda Haredit marched towards the Russian Compound police station where they prayed. They were holding their prayer shawls and Tefilin in case they were arrested. During the protest one protester screamed: "Damned Germans, go back to Germany."
On Sunday evening aome 200 ultra-Orthodox in Beit Shemesh blocked a street, threw stones and clashed with police forces in protest against the arrests. Four demonstrators were detained.
The Eda Haredit rally (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Israel Police Commissioner Yohatan Danino said the arrests were "part of the force's crime-fighting activity and were not meant to specifically target Eda Haredit."
Meanwhile, police have detained a Mea Shearim cab driver for questioning after he drove around the neighborhood with a loudspeaker illegally attached to his car calling out for people to attend the protest. During his interrogation he claimed that a resident gave him NIS 100 and a disc to do so.
Police have been holding an undercover investigation for the past few months around Jerusalem's Rappaport street where a fundraiser has been operating for the past decade. The company employs 10 people; the two main suspects run the office.
The investigation revealed that the two main suspects withdrew donation money for their own personal use and paid their employees unreported salaries worth hundreds of thousands of shekels a year.
The suspects were aided by a bank teller from the Mercantile Bank in Mea Shearim. The Tax Authority and police are examining the bank teller's involvement in the case.
The Eda Haredit was furious over the arrests and threatened to "set Jerusalem on fire," because one of those arrested is the personal aide of the Eda leader. Moreover, the "national committee" which was raided by the police is considered one of the Eda's most important financial sources.
Omri Efraim contributed to the report
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