On Wednesday, a handful of members of the radical ultra-Orthodox community known as the Sicarii (named for the anti-Roman zealots of the Second Temple era) decided to protest in front of the home of the Minister Yaakov Litzman, who also happens to be the head of the Haredi party United Torah Judaism.
The protest began after new regulations went into effect that include the shutting down of synagogues and strict limits on movement outdoors.
Given that such a gathering is against the government regulations, the protest was dispersed quickly by police. Three protesters who refused to adhere to police instructions were arrested and are set to be fined under the new regulations.
On Wednesday, several police vehicles entered Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim, and called on all those still outside to return to their homes immediately and for all stores deemed non-essential to close. Here too, a handful of Sicarii refused to abide by police instructions.
Since it is customary in the ultra-Orthodox community to prepare for Passover by buying new clothing and household items, many of the stores selling these items in Mea Shearim have refused to close their doors.
On Tuesday, two police officers arrived at the neighborhood and demanded shop owners cease their operations, but they met heavy resistance from the local residents, including violence and stone throwing.
The two officers called for reinforcements, and soon a riot control unit arrived at the scene to successfully bring the situation under control.
Five store owners were fined for violating government regulations, and one rioter was arrested and taken in for questioning.
But not everyone in Mea Shearim is ignoring the new restrictions.
“This group does not represent the Ultra-Orthodox in any way, “ says Yehuda, who saw the riots on Wednesday.
“They are radicals who cause a fuss every time they see the police. Most of the Ultra-Orthodox population listens to the instructions of the Health Ministry, with rabbis also instructing them to adhere to them.”