Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Protest Jerusalem Light Rail Route, 25 Arrested

Posters urged community to join rally against 'destruction of its neighborhoods' as light rail route slated to pass through several ultra-Orthodox enclaves

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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Demonstration against light rail construction in Jerusalem, December 7, 2020.
Demonstration against light rail construction in Jerusalem, December 7, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

Hundreds of members of the so-called Jerusalem faction and ultra-Orthodox factions protested Monday night in Jerusalem against light rail construction on Bar Ilan Street, which borders religious neighborhoods, arguing that it would harm the ultra-Orthodox character of the area.

For hours, beginning from approximately 7 P.M., demonstrators blocked Bar Ilan Street, a main arterial road that borders religious neighborhoods, broke through city fences, and set fires to trashcans and engineering tools used in the construction of the light rail. Police said 25 protesters were arrested, noting that one of them had been in possession of a pocketknife, a baton and pepper spray.

A protester is arrested at a demonstration against light rail construction in Jerusalem, December 7, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

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The Green Line, Jerusalem's second light rail line, is part of a master public transportation plan currently being implemented throughout the capital. It will run from the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University in northern Jerusalem, and end in Gilo, a neighborhood in the city's south. Part of the route is slated to operate on Bar Ilan Street and pass by several ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods – Ramat Eshkol, Geula, City Center and Givat Mordechai – and this is what extremist ultra-Orthodox members among the ultra-Orthodox communities and the Jerusalem faction oppose.

In the run up to Monday evening, pashkevils, or posters placed on public walls within Haredi communities, implored people to join a rally to "clearly and unequivocally declare that the light rail will not pass through the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods no matter what. Ultra-Orthodox Judaism will in no way accept the destruction of its neighborhoods, and the ultra-Orthodox of Jerusalem will all stand firmly … and will not rest until the complete abolition of the horrific decree."

A demonstration against light rail construction in Jerusalem, December 7, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

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