Residents of Beit Shemesh had to string up Israeli flags down a central thoroughfare in the city for Independence Day, because, they say, the municipality refused to do so.

Although many streets throughout Beit Shemesh have been generously festooned with flags, Herzog Street, which runs directly between the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet and the more modern neighborhood of Givat Sharet, was not included in the patriotic street decorations.

The municipality does not hang flags inside the city’s haredi neighborhoods at all.

According to anti-extremism community activist Rabbi Dov Lipman, an official in the Beit Shemesh Municipality said that there was no point putting flags along the streets since extremists would simply burn them.

The Beit Shemesh Municipality spokesman could not be reached to verify the comment.

Herzog Street has become something of a fault line in the city’s struggle between ultra-Orthodox extremists and residents fighting what they see as the “haredification” of Beit Shemesh.

Extremists last year regularly picketed the Orot Banot elementary girls school, which is on Herzog Street, in protest of what they said was the pupils’ “immodest” dress and the close proximity of the school to their neighborhood.

“When the girls left school this morning, they could see and feel that they are living in a Zionist city and not one under the control of extremists,” said Lipman. “The time has come to do what’s right and not to give these extremists any control whatsoever. By refraining from putting the flags up along this street it reinforces the notion they have that ‘this is our turf.’ “Whatever happens in this city, if the municipality won’t stand up to the extremists then the residents will.”

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