A leading Israeli rabbi condemned gender segregation on public buses Tuesday, saying that such policies “destroy the foundations of the Torah.”

In his weekly column for the religious newspaper B’Sheva, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed said that Jewish law makes a clear distinction between “what is required and what is optional”, and that gender segregation on public buses hurts the “proper family order.”

Melamed also stated that gender segregation is appropriate only during when performing “public acts”, and said that riding the bus is considered a “private act.”

Moreover, the rabbi added that there is no need to add new laws regarding modesty, stating that former rabbis were able to create a modest society with “respectable distances between men and women” and that any attempt to prevent interactions between the sexes may “only give rise to unwanted urges.”

Melamed's comments come a day after thousands of Israelis amassed near the Orot girl's school in Beit Shemesh on to protest gender segregation in a city that has become a symbol for the struggle against religious extremism.