Some 200 secular protestors demonstrated in Arad Saturday night against what they view as the city growing more religious, after an incident in which burning tires were allegedly thrown by Gur Hasidim at a home where secular people live.
Confrontations at the demonstration turned violent when Gur followers arrived at the protest and police were called to the scene.
One of the Haredi protestors then spat at a female cop and others confronted the officers. Gur followers from all over Israel have made their way to Arad to paticipate.
This event is part of a larger conflict in Arad, with the Hasidim claiming the secular people in the city are restricting their lifestyles while the municipality isn't providing the community with the public funds they deserve.
The secular segment of the city's populace, on the other hand, claim members of the ultra-Orthodox sect wish to take over public buildings and fear they intend to change the city's character.
Arad Mayor Nisan Ben-Hamo arrived at the protest. "Once again the Gur thuggery crosses the line," he said. "They came to the home of a resident of the city who put up a sign, as they themselves have done with their own political messages. They congregated there and started attacking both police and residents. This is crossing a red line. This is the face of the sect. This madness has to stop. A minority in this city cannot dictate its agenda. It doesn't make sense. We're all simply stunned."
MK Yaakov Litzman, the minister of health and a follower of the Gur sect, later arrived in the city, though not to the protest, and spoke with the deputy commander of the police's Negev division.
Saturday's clashes were preceded by the hanging of pashkevilim against the city's mayor, and a complaint he'd made against the Gur sect's rabbi, as well as struggles regarding budgeting and use of public buildings.
In addition, the municipality fought against signs hung by Gur followers in Arad, with the latter pressing charges against the authority.
The municipality noted this was a result of continued thuggery effectively indorsed by the sect's leaders. "These acts include illegal entries into building buildings, kindergartens, operating sirens without permits, hanging signs all over the city and disturbing neighbors."