Ultra Orthodox and secular Israelis clash in Beit Shemesh..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Beit Shemesh Municipality conducted its third operation within two weeks to remove so-called modesty signs from radical neighborhoods in the city, following concerted efforts by residents to replace the signs as soon as they were taken down.
On Tuesday morning, the municipality went about removing more signs in a joint operation with the police, but noted in a statement to the press that the operation was halted in the middle due to violence and disturbances from extremists in the neighborhoods.
The municipality also said that the signs were replaced once again a few hours after the operation concluded.
Although some of the most prominent and professionally made signs have now been taken down, extremists in the radical neighborhoods of Beit Shemesh put up similar but more simple signs printed on paper, plastered stickers all over the neighborhood, and spray-painted the modesty messages on walls.
A protracted legal battle over the signs led the High Court of Justice earlier this month to threaten the Beit Shemesh mayor and other officials with imprisonment for contempt of court for failing to permanently remove the signs.
This led to more serious efforts to tackle the problem, but the ultra-conservative members of the neighborhood have fought a determined rear-guard action to project the message that they will determine what happens in these areas.
Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul called on the High Court to “release the municipality from this unceasing cycle, since it is not in the power of the city inspectors to conduct these complicated operations every day and to pay the high costs for them from taxpayers’ money.”
Abutbul instead called on the police to enforce public order in the city.