Secular Israelis Block Entrance to ultra-Orthodox Town Ahead of Shabbat

Rally held in protest of ultra-Orthodox, who in recent weeks have demonstrated against enlistment to Israeli army, causing traffic jams

Secular Israelis block entrance to ultra-Orthodox town Modi'in Ilit ahead of Shabbat in protest of disruptions to daily life cause by ultra-Orthodox protests against IDF enlistment. April 7, 2017
Ofer Vaknin

Dozens of secular Israelis blocked the entrance to an ultra-Orthodox city in central Israel on Friday to protest disruptions caused by recent protests by the strictly religious community.

The protesters, from the Modi'in region in central Israel, tried to prevent residents of the adjacent settlement of Modi'in Ilit from returning to their homes ahead of Shabbat. The rally was a protest of what they say is the disruption caused by regular demonstrations by ultra-Orthodox against attempts to enlist youths from the community into the Israel Defense Forces ranks.

In recent weeks, residents of the secular communities of Modi'in, Kfar Ruth, Lapid, Kfar Oranim, Shilat and others in the area claimed that the ultra-Orthodox demonstrations - which take place at a key local junction - disrupt their lives, especially during rush hour, making commuting insufferable.

The protests raised tensions between the two sides, and on Friday, secular residents decided to take action, protesting at the entrance to the ultra-Orthodox town, home to the majority of the anti-enlistment protesters.

The secular protesters attempted to prevent the ultra-Orthodox from getting home in time to prepare for Shabbat and cause them to remain in their cars until Shabbat ends. In wake of the protest, police forces were called to the scene and took control of the ruckus the protest caused.