Beit Shemesh to install 400 security cameras

Decision made to deter street harassment of "immodestly dressed" women; man arrested over attack on Channel 2 crew.

December 26, 2011 08:47
2 minute read.
Haredim riot [file photo]

Haredi riot 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Beit Shemesh municipality announced on Sunday that it would install approximately 400 security cameras in areas where verbal intimidation and spitting have been reported.

The decision comes after a series of events in which haredi [ultra-Orthodox] men harassed women they perceived to be dressed immodestly on the city's streets.

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A haredi youth was arrested Sunday night by Beit Shemesh police and detectives on suspicion of involvement in Sunday's disturbances in the city and the attacking of a Channel 2 crew.

According to Israel Police, the youth was being investigated on Monday.

Beit Shemesh reeled on Sunday as tensions exploded between the ultra-Orthodox and national-religious sectors.

A crew from Channel 2 filming in a haredi neighborhood was stoned and one journalist was lightly injured as dozens of haredim surrounded their car and attempted to smash their windshield.

Also on Sunday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court released a haredi man from Beit Shemesh who had spit at a woman he claimed was dressed immodestly. Meir David Ayzonblech was arrested on Saturday night after he was caught on video by Channel 2 spitting at a woman last week. Ayzonblech was released late Sunday night after the judge ruled that he did not pose a threat to the public, but was ordered to stay out of Beit Shemesh for a week and pay fines of several thousand shekels.

A leader of the Beit Shemesh Eda Haredit group, Rabbi Shimon Shasi, testified on Ayzonblech’s behalf and told the court that while spitting or throwing things at women is forbidden, the haredim actually treat their women “like kings.”

“From an ideological standpoint, it’s actually that the woman is a king within her group, and not everyone has contact with the kin; that’s the halachic way to honor a woman,” he said.

Jerusalem Police Chief Cmdr. Nisso Shaham appealed to Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbol on Sunday for municipality inspectors to work with police to take down signs around the city demanding modest dress.

Printed signs and graffiti spray-painted on stone walls dotted the city, requiring pedestrians to wear modest clothes or, in one case, asking women to cross to the other side of the street in order to avoid walking by a yeshiva.

Police and municipal inspectors removed signs in the haredi area of Beit Shemesh calling for segregated sidewalks for women on Sunday night. Police said men surrounded the inspectors, but that the crowds were dispersed without incident.

Last week, Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino ordered his commanders and officers to enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination against women.

According to guidelines sent by Danino to police commanders, any form of this discrimination must be treated as a criminal offense or a public disorder incident.

Danino accompanied the orders with a condemnation of the phenomenon, describing “any attempt to harm the rights of women” as unacceptable.

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