Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Clash With Police in Jerusalem Over Arrest of Community Leaders

Six prominent members of the community arrested earlier on suspicion of financial crimes; protesters try to block roads in Mea She’arim neighborhood.

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox protesters tried on Sunday to block roads around Jerusalem’s Kikar Hashabbat (Sabbath Square) in Mea She’arim neighborhood, after six prominent members of the community were arrested earlier in the day in suspicion of financial-related crimes. Three demonstrators have been arrested so far.

Eda Haredit leader Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss said that the arrest of the six is as if he himself was arrested. His followers understood his statement as a call to use all means to protest the arrests.

ultra-Orthodox - Olivier Fitoussi - January 15, 2012
Protesters in Jerusalem, January 15, 2012Olivier Fitoussi

Approximately 200 protesters have gathered in the area and large police forces were called to the scene to prevent serious clashes. A protest against the arrests was also held in Beit Shemesh outside Jerusalem.

Israel Police and the tax authorities claim the arrests were made after a long investigation, during which evidence was gathered tying the suspects to felonies such as theft of donations, tax evasion, money laundering and more.