The ongoing dispute between the national-religious and ultra-Orthodox communities in Beit Shemesh over the state religious girls' school Orot was renewed Sunday, when around 70 Haredim from a nearby neighborhood converged at the gate of the institution at about 1 P.M. Police officers dispatched to the scene prevented the group from entering the school. After several minutes during which large numbers of police officers arrived on the scene, and the ultra-Orthodox chanted slogans denouncing the presence of girls in the school and read from the Book of Psalms - the group dispersed. In light of the numerous incidents at the school last week, Beit Shemesh police chief Kobi Cohen also arrived there Sunday.
As reported in Haaretz, last Monday about 15 Haredim who object to the presence of the girls broke into the school building - although they themselves live a distance away. Orot itself is situated in a national-religious neighborhood. Parents of students at the school scuffled with the Haredim until police called to the scene removed the protesters, who promised to return.
After three days of confusion, Mayor Moshe Abutbul handed the keys to the school to parents. Under their watchful eyes, and with security provided by a massive police presence as well as a private security firm, the school year opened on schedule.
"We'll fight for another 20 years," said Moshe Friedman, one of the leaders of the extremist Haredi group that broke into the school Sunday. "Until they get rid of the girls. We'll do something different every day, until they say they've had enough."
"My daughter called me, she was really upset," explained attorney Haim Makhlouf, a member of Orot's parents' committee. "But we knew that last week wouldn't be the end of it," he added.
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