haredi protest 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Police on Thursday dispersed hundreds of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) throwing stones, blocking traffic and burning trashcans in Beit Shemesh.
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Three people were arrested during the disturbance in the city that has become the focus of the Israeli media after a Channel 2 report revealed haredi extremists verbally attacking an eight-year old girl for failing to dress modestly.
No injuries were reported in Thursday's disturbance.
Earlier on Thursday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai came out strongly against splitting Beit Shemesh into separate haredi and non-haredi cities, telling a haredi radio station that such a move would be disastrous for the haredim.
Netanyahu's associates confirmed the the prime minister had discussed
such a possibility with Yishai but said it was just one of many
alternatives considered for the city and it was unlikely to be adopted.
When speaking to mainstream media, Yishai said he opposed the split
because he did not want to divide the Jewish people, but when addressing
haredi listeners, his reasoning was more candid.
"When I became interior minister in 2003, there had been a
recommendation to split the city and already then I said it was not the
right thing to do," Yishai told the radio station Kol Barama. "It would
create a haredi city lacking income, property tax and other taxes, with
no industry. It's not the right thing to do."
Yishai has spoken out against haredi extremists. He revealed that he had
received threats in the past from the haredi extremist Sikrikim group.
Deputy Health Minster Ya'acov Litzman also said Thursday that haredi extremists
have been sending him death threats in recent months. Litzman said the
threats have forced him to travel with a guard for the past four months.
Sources close to Litzman blamed the Sikrikim, which they said is
responsible for inciting the recent women's exclusion phenomenon. They
said that as a deputy minister, he does not automatically receive the
protection given to ministers, but after receiving the threats, his
protection was increased.