The Beit Orot elementary girls’ school in Beit Shemesh was again the focus of
tension on Monday when a group of about 15 haredi extremists arrived at the
school during the afternoon and reportedly shouted insults at the classrooms and
attacked an activist photographing the incident.
According to resident
and local activist DK – who preferred not to be named – the men turned up at the
school at approximately 1 p.m. and shouted various slogans at the classrooms,
including “Zionists are defiling our neighborhood,” “get out of our
neighborhood,” and “woe to immorality.”
According to DK, as he was taking
photos of the event, two of the extremists attacked him and threw him to the
ground, before a second activist intervened and the men fled to the adjacent
neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet.
Police arrived at the scene 30
seconds after the men had fled and took the incident very seriously, said DK. He
subsequently submitted an official complaint to the police.
religious-Zionist Bet Orot School, located between the haredi neighborhood of
Ramat Bet Shemesh Bet and the mixed neighborhood of Givat Sharet, has drawn
anger from certain haredi groups who are opposed to the school’s location close
to their community. There is also a severe shortage of classroom space in the
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post
, DK said that the extremists
involved in Monday’s incident were not ones he recognized from previous
“It’s not clear that the municipality is dealing with the
problem properly and it hasn’t given us reason to believe that it will be dealt
with seriously,” he said. “But we’ve had a month or two without problems, so
hopefully the issue will die back down again.”
Rabbi Dov Lipman, who
heads the Or Hadash activist group seeking to combat the radicalization of
certain haredi groups in the city, said that Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul’s
efforts to resolve the ongoing tensions in the city through peaceful means have
“His ‘darkei shalom’ [ways of peace] have merely brought more
violence,” Lipman said.
“There is one clear conclusion here: If the mayor
will continue to bring more and more extremist haredim to the town, we will see
more violence from these thugs and law breakers in the name of religion, and we
will also see more religious coercion against the peaceable population – the
moderate haredi, religious-Zionist and secular communities.”Ben Hartman
contributed to this report.