Police, ultra-Orthodox Injured in Clashes as COVID Regulations Enforced

Clashes erupt in West Bank settlement, J'lem as Haredim hurl stones and metal bars at police ; 24 arrested

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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Jerusalem, Oct. 6, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

Police officers and members of the ultra-Orthodox community were injured Tuesday night in major clashes that erupted in a West Bank settlement and Jerusalem as the police sought to enforce coronavirus restrictions against public gatherings.

The police said that 17 people had been arrested in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood and another seven in Modi’in Ilit.

The police used force to disperse the crowds, which hurled stones and metal bars at them.

HAARETZ PODCAST: A very close call for Netanyahu and Mossad chief at the White HouseCredit: Haaretz

A number of Hasidic groups in Mea She’arim held celebrations for the Sukkot holiday on Tuesday night that were attended by thousands of people in violation of coronavirus health restrictions, but the police remained outside the neighborhood and did not intervene.

A metal bar being thrown at a policeman, Mea She'arim, Oct. 6, 2020.

They did enter the neighborhood about 15 minutes after the last of the events ended, however, and began making arrests. The crowd threw stones and metal bars at the police and shattered the windshield of a police cruiser. Damage was also caused to nearby parked cars and other property.

In Modi’in Ilit, riots erupted after the police entered the settlement in response to a report of a public gathering at a synagogue. Hundreds of people, including children, came to the vicinity of the synagogue and in the violent confrontations with the police that ensued, residents threw stones and other objects at the police – including firecrackers, according to the police. Reinforcements were called in that extracted police vehicles trapped among the crowd.

Four police officers were lightly injured. During the confrontations there, a police officer was caught on video hitting a boy in the face.

The police said that residents continued to throw stones and shoot fireworks at the police as law enforcement forces withdrew. “Four police officers were injured, including two policewomen who were taken to the hospital for medical treatment, and police vehicles were damaged,” the police said.

A number of ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel have had disproportionately large outbreaks of COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, Haaretz reported that the police came to secret understandings with a number of extremist ultra-Orthodox communities in Mea She’arim consenting to permit the groups to hold events attended by large numbers of people every evening during the current Sukkot holiday on the condition that no video footage of the events is released publicly, according to two ultra-Orthodox sources.

When asked about this by Haaretz, the police said the mass events did not take place. “These are false claims, and we reject them out of hand,” the police said in a statement.

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