A standoff between a Orthodox man and a member of Women of the Wall takes place at the Western Wall on Friday morning..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Thousands of Orthodox women arrived on Friday morning at the Western Wall plaza to protest against Women of the Wall, who were at the site to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
It was reported that over 10,000 Orthodox women, and 150 women from Women of the Wall were at the plaza just after 7 a.m. on Friday. Insults were reportedly exchanged between the two sides during the clashes, as the stand-off continued.
Police were on site to separate the two groups. They designated a small area with barriers at the plaza, however the large Orthodox crowds surrounded it and began shouting abuse and slurs.
A large contingent of ultra-Orthodox men were also at the site to protest Women of the Wall. Groups also crowded and tried to block the entrances to the Western Wall plaza in a bid to stop members of the controversial women's group from entering the area.
In a statement, Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz appealed to the groups saying “that the Western Wall plaza is not a...demonstration area and asked [for attendees] to refrain from provocations, and to guard the Western Wall as a unified place, and not a place of division."
“On Rosh Chodesh Adar II (Friday), I urge everyone to refrain from bringing their war to the Wall,” he said. “Please - the Western Wall is not a platform for ideas and not a platform for holding demonstrations.”
He pleaded that the women should back down and that there should be peace at the wall “so that month of Adar will be a month of joy and unity – not, G-d forbid, of mourning and division.”
He added that the “commandment of Purim is to send gifts to each other, to bring unity among brothers.
“Our victory over Haman will be in adding love for the entire Jewish people while preserving the sanctity of the Western Wall,” he said. "We must stop once and for all using the wall as a platform for public struggles, we have no other wall."
The clashes were sparked by a call by senior rabbis in the religious and ultra-Orthodox public to protest against Women of the Wall's activities.
Police eventually evacuated some of the group from the main Western Wall plaza area after two of the women fainted.
As verbal slurs and abuse continued, the women's group eventually moved down to the Robinson's Arch area of the Western Wall to pray and read from the Torah.
Police confirmed that a 20-year-old ultra-Orthodox man had been arrested after he tried to attack an officer in the area.
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