Special police forces on foot and on motorcycles dispersed haredi protesters who had managed to block Jerusalem's Golda Meir Blvd. on Sunday evening, in the culmination of a 1,500-strong haredi protest against Intel's continued Shabbat operation of its microchip factory in the capital.
Earlier in the protest, one policeman was lightly wounded by a stone hurled at him. Protesters also threw firecrackers, and isolated scuffles broke out between police and the protesters. A haredi man was arrested with a stone in his hand which he apparently intended to throw at police.
The protest began with prayer and speeches by leading rabbis allied with the Edah Haredit, an anti-Zionist, strictly traditionalist umbrella organization of Hassidic movements, who spoke about the importance of respecting Shabbat.
Throughout the protest, police officers were seen moving into the crowd.
Hundreds of spectators watched the protest. One told The Jerusalem Post that while he did not approve of transgressing Shabbat, he did not see the point in violent protest, and his rabbi came out against it. However, another onlooker told The Post that in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood in Jerusalem, secular residents continued to damage the eruv (a halachic zone enabling observant Jews to carry object on Shabbat). Just like they don't want an eruv in Kiryat Yovel, he continued, we don't want a factory here in our neighborhood.
Sunday's demonstration was the biggest since the first protest, which began some six weeks ago. A proposed compromise to keep the factory open on Shabbat by reducing Saturday production to a bare minimum while employing only non-Jews was rejected by the head of Edah Haredit's rabbinical court, Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, who declared that haredi protests against the computer chip maker would resume.
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