Police Detain 4 in Jerusalem Neighborhood After Friday Eve 'Eruv' Spat

Police detained four people after violence erupted again on Friday night between Orthodox and secular residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Hayovel. The clash occured when two non-Orthodox residents allegedly attempted to vandalize the eruv - the string or wire delineating the area within which observant Jews may carry objects outside their homes on the Sabbath.

There have been a number of similar incidents recently, stemming from the fight of secular residents over the establishment of reportedly unlicensed ultra-Orthodox educational institutions in their neighborhood. Ultra-Orthodox residents claim the eruv surrounding the city of Jerusalem does not meet the strictest standards, and an association has recently been created to string new ones around separate neighborhoods like Kiryat Hayovel. The association's members say they have permits to do so, but they have been harassed by their secular neighbors for some time now.

The municipality has recently established a committee to resolve the dispute.

On Friday night Danny Mandler, one of the main opponents to the eruv, allegedly attempted, with another man, to break the wire, after which a fight ensued and police had to be called to the scene. Mandler, who did not deny vandalizing the wires, told Haaretz that about 30 ultra-Orthodox men showed up and "tried to kidnap" his friend. The police detained two ultra-Orthodox men along with Mandler and his friend - who had called the police in the first place.

The ultra-Orthodox men claimed the police forced them to desecrate the Sabbath by making them ride in a police van to the police station.

Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said in response that the two had resisted being detained for questioning and therefore had to be driven to the police station.

Commented Mandler, a professor of chemistry at Hebrew University, "at least some good will come out of this scandalous business."