Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Protesters Riot in Flashpoint Town of Beit Shemesh

Protesters set fire to trash cans and hurl rocks; Police arrive in large numbers and arrest three.

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested on Thursday evening on a Beit Shemesh street, throwing rocks, blocking the road and burning trash cans. Police arrived in large numbers and have so far arrested three of the rioters.

The incident began as a small local gathering of about 20 people, who waved signs with slogans attacking Zionism. Shmuel Fefenheim, who lives nearby, said that "this group has been coming out every night recently with signs. Today, because of the atmosphere and people under arrest, someone decided to set fire to a large trash can and things spiraled from there."

Emil Salman

Earlier on Thursday, An 8-year-old girl who became the symbol of a recent public struggle against gender segregation and religious extremism returned to school for the first time since a violent incident that sparked a nation-wide protest movement.

Na'ama Margolese turned into a household name last week after Channel 2 broadcasted a segment in which the young girl's described being spat on and accosted by ultra-Orthodox men over what they deemed to be her indecent apparel.

The story soon became a focal point for a rising protest movement against the exclusion of women in the public sphere, with thousands of Israelis amassing in Beit Shemesh to speak out against gender segregation.