Violent demonstrations on the part of Haredim returned yesterday to Bar-Ilan Street in Jerusalem, following a six-year hiatus.
Some 200 Haredim gathered yesterday afternoon at the Bar-Ilan junction, which borders religious neighborhoods, and tried to block the road to vehicular traffic. The demonstrators threw stones at vehicles using the road, damaging some of them. There were no reports of injuries.
Later in the evening, after the Sabbath, Haredim threw stones at police on duty along the road. A female police officer was lightly injured and evacuated for treatment.
Police arrested three demonstrators. One was apprehended after trying to block the junction and encouraging others to assist him.
The renewal of the demonstrations is the first attempt by the ultra-Orthodox sector to put the capital's new Haredi mayor, Uri Lupolianski, to the test.
"The only person who can offer a solution to these demonstrations is Lupolianski," said senior Jerusalem municipal officials yesterday. "If he manages to rein in the Haredi street, the demonstrations will cease. If not, the riots in Bar-Ilan could intensify from week to week, and the clashes at the site between the Haredi and secular public are likely to reignite."
Lupolianski is expected to meet in the coming days with representatives and leaders of the city's Haredi community.
At the same time, the capital's secular leadership is preparing a possible response to the ultra-Orthodox demonstrations. Pepe Alalo and Sa'ar Netanel from the Meretz faction on the city council were in Bar-Ilan yesterday to witness the demonstrations and are planning this week to take action to prevent any change in the status quo along the road that was determined by the High Court of Justice in 1997.