A day after a massive rally in central Israel protested gender segregation and discrimination in Israel, a female Israel Defense Forces soldier reported being accosted by a Haredi man on Wednesday over her refusal to move to the back of a segregated bus in Jerusalem.
According to the soldier, Doron Matalon, a 45-year-old man asked her to move to the back of the bus, threatening her, and calling her "prostitute."
"I didn't want to move back, both on principle and because there wasn't any room. It's always stuffy and disgusting in the back," Matalon said, adding that "everything was fine, I was almost at my stop, and then the conductors came on."
At that point, the IDF soldier said, the ultra-Orthodox man chastised a woman who had come over to the front of the bus to have her ticket checked, saying: "You don't have to come up front to check your ticket, a woman shouldn't move to this side of the bus."
"And then he turned to me," Matalon said, and said 'you too soldier, move back, and then he called me a prostitute." According to the IDF soldier, the man was soon joined by other religious men in the bus, who proceeded to yell out "prostitute," and "Shikse "(gentile woman).
Matalon said that at that point she "felt threatened and a huge commotion began. I yelled out for the conductor to come quick, and two male conductors rushed in. They pushed him away from me and said: 'Why are you shouting, she's a soldier,' but he continued to be abusive."
The bus was ordered to stop in the city's Levi Eshkol Blvd, where the conductors called the police. Eyewitnesses reported that the Haredi men continued his disruptive behavior even after a police officer arrived at the scene.
All those involved were taken to questioning, with the ultra-Orthodox man the only one to be arrested following the incident.
"This isn’t the first time this has happened, I just asked for help this time," Matalon said, adding that she had experienced "worse incidents on this line," including one in which she was shoved off the bus when her stop arrived."
"I'm slowly calming down, but I'm not over it yet," the IDF soldier said.
Police sources indicated that the suspected was to be held until Thursday, at which point he will face a court remand hearing.
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