28 Arrested as Haredim Riot Over Shabbat Opening of Jerusalem Parking Lot

Six hurt in Jerusalem disturbances; Haredim throw rotten fruit, soiled diapers at police.

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Twenty eight ultra-Orthodox demonstrators were arrested and six people were wounded during riots in Jerusalem on Saturday over the opening of a parking lot in the capital on Shabbat.

A 20-year-old Haredi man sustained serious head wounds during the turmoil; Magen David Adom emergency services said the man, suffering from convulsions, was taken to Hadassah Ein Karem for medical treatment.

Police said they had no further details about the circumstances in which the man was wounded.

Four police officers were also lightly hurt during the protests, as was a six-year-old boy, according to the Associated Press.

Near the site of the demonstration, thousands of secular Israelis held a counter-protest in support of Mayor Nir Barkat's decision to open the Carta parking lot.

Police had deployed a large force to secure the area amid fears that the secular rally could spark a violent clash with ultra-Orthodox protestors, who bitterly oppose the opening of the lot as a violation of the biblical command to rest on the Sabbath.

Haredi demonstrators did, in fact, congregate at the site, near Safra Square. While police managed to separate the two groups, the officers themselves scuffled with ultra-Orthodox demonstrators who hurled soiled diapers and rotten fruit and vegetables at them.

Police arrested the ultra-Orthodox protestors for disorderly conduct and illegal assembly. Four of them were detailed after they attempted to block the entrance to the Carta lot. Earlier, undercover policemen arrested four Haredim who damaged passing cars on Jerusalem's Bar Ilan Street.

Despite the ultra-Orthodox protesters' attempts to block the parking lot entrance in the afternoon, hundreds of cars were able to park there successfully on Saturday.

The Mayor's bureau said later Saturday that the lot solved the problems of parking and public safety in Jerusalem's Old City.

"The mayor is obligated to maintain the public's safety and this concern is what guides him," said a Barkat spokesperson. "The police must now be concerned with public order."

In the wake of the protests, Barkat's security detail has been reinforced and a security guard has been placed outside of his home.

On Friday, ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemites staged a mass rally to protest the parking lot's opening.

Droves of Haredim flooded Bar Ilan Street, a major throughway in the heart of an ultra-Orthodox district, as well as other sites in the city.

Violent riots also erupted three weeks ago, after the municipality passed a resolution to open the Safra parking lot in the city center on the Sabbath. Hoping to appease the protesters, Barkat decided to open the nearby Carta lot instead, but the controversy has not subsided.

Numerous Haredi leaders from various factions, including Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv, a leader of the Lithuanian Haredi community, joined the call to hold the mass prayer session after the protest was initially led by Eda Haredit, an extremist ultra-Orthodox group.

Protesters attacked journalists who were covering the events, including Channel 2 reporter Dafna Liel who had to cut short a live report.



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