Police arrested three haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men Saturday who tried to prevent civilian traffic on Rehov Hanevi’im in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood. Over 100 haredim were demonstrating against the desecration of Shabbat and shouted “Shabbes” at passersby.
Around 20 people, including residents of the nearby Musrara neighborhood and secular activists, gathered on the street near the haredim for a counter protest to ensure that the traffic was not disturbed.
Similar haredi protests take place most weeks at the same place.
The issue of haredim protesting against the desecration of Shabbat is common in Jerusalem and demonstrations have been known to become violent.
Last summer, close to a thousand haredi men held a demonstration against the desecration of Shabbat, marking 100 weekends since the Karta parking lot in the capital began to open on the Jewish day of rest.
Police repeatedly stopped the participants from blocking the intersection of Strauss and Hanevi’im, on the southern border of the haredi area in central Jerusalem.
The area resonated with yells of “Shabbes” aimed at security personnel, photographers and cars driving by, as well as at a handful of secular counter-demonstrators on the other side of the street.
Police pushing back the front line of protesters nearing Rehov Hanevi’im were subject to the occasional cry of “Nazis,” or reminded of the verse that “those who desecrate [Shabbat] shall die,” but retained their cool and avoided giving the demonstrators the desired pretext to up the level of violence, that was largely limited to pushing.
Jonah Mandel contributed to this report.