After ultra0Orthodox demonstrators protested opposite the Intel offices in Jerusalem on Saturday, Trade Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on Sunday said that such violence and vandalism would not be tolerated by the government.
"Whoever thinks that violence will solve the problem, and whoever thinks that the government will accept violence and vandalism is wrong," said Ben-Eliezer at a ceremony marking the opening of a new Intel site in Jerusalem.
"I understand that there are populations who have certain customs and demands and I respect that, but everything can be straightened out in a pleasant way and with mutual respect," the minister continued.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also came out in support of Intel on Sunday, encouraging it to continue its work in the city. "I denounce violent acts that achieve nothing, and I hope the two sides can reach an agreement," said Barkat.
Intel said it would overcome "all the obstacles" in order to continue manufacturing its product in the best way possible, Maxine Fassberg, the company's general manager in Israel, said. Fassberg added that Intel is grateful for the support expressed by the mayor and minister.
Intel on Sunday said it had no plans to close the controversial plant in Jerusalem on Saturdays, despite violent protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews who accuse the chip maker of desecrating the Jewish Sabbath.
Intel spokesman Kobi Bachar said the factory has operated on Saturdays for more than 20 years and it will continue to do so.
"Nothing has changed. We have been open there for 24 years in accordance with the law," Bachar said.
About 1,500 protesters demonstrated outside the factory on Saturday.
The demonstrators dressed in traditional black hats and long coats, shouted Shabbes! Shabbes! - the Yiddish word for the Sabbath - while banging against one of the door's of Intel's Jerusalem office.
Some protesters were hurt after security personnel sprayed pepper spray in their faces. Other demonstrators hurled stones at and pushed journalists who were present at the scene.
Bachar said the protests were sparked by the opening of a new facility at the site.
Ultra-Orthodox activists often protest businesses that open on Saturdays. They say this violates the Jewish day of rest and the sanctity of the holy city.
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