Haredi Teargases Woman for Using 'Men Only' Sidewalk

The ultra-Orthodox activist was conditionally released from prison a day after his arrest.

An activist in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit community was conditionally released from prison Monday, a day after his arrest for allegedly spraying an ultra-Orthodox woman with tear gas in the capital's Mea She'arim neighborhood.

Yoel Kraus was arrested after the woman filed a police complaint. The alleged attack occured about two weeks ago, during the Sukkot holiday, as the woman was walking on a "men only" sidewalk, and refused Kraus' demand that she move to the women's side.

The woman did not require medical attention.

According to an agreement reached with the police, Kraus is to spend five days under house arrest at a location outside of Jerusalem and will not be allowed to return to the city for two weeks. He will then be prohibited from participating in public protests or public events for 30 days.

Although Kraus is not the Eda Haredit's official spokesman, he often grants interviews, leading the media to dub him the "operations officer of the Eda Haredit."

The alleged incident occured during the interim days of Sukkot, when the streets of Mea She'arim and adjacent Geula neighborhoods are packed with hundreds of thousands of visitors celebrating the Simchat Beit Hashoevah festival.

Because of the crowds, community leaders decided three years ago that to preserve the community's standard of modesty, men and women would walk on separate sides of the street. Parents were permitted to walk together with their children on one of the side streets.

A special pedestrian interchange was set up on the street to lead men and women to their separate sidewalks. The neighborhood leadership and the various Hassidic groups hired dozens of security guards to maintain the gender-specific arrangement. Kraus reportedly did not trust the guards, and set out to inspect the arrangement himself.