Haredim attack man carrying Israeli flag

60-year-old attacked near a central thoroughfare in Mea She'arim during the siren for Remembrance Day.

flag israel 88 (photo credit:)
flag israel 88
(photo credit: )
A 60-year-old Jerusalem resident was assaulted by a large group of haredim on Wednesday in the city's Mea She'arim neighborhood for carrying an Israeli flag during the siren for Remembrance Day, police said. The man, who wears a skullcap, was attacked by scores of haredim near a central thoroughfare in the haredi neighborhood after he was seen carrying the large blue-and-white flag during the two-minute siren on one of the country's most solemn days. The assailants, who pushed the man to the ground, tried to grab the flag from his hands, he recounted in a telephone interview. "I protected the flag with my body," recounted the man, who asked not to be identified. About a minute later, an undercover police force stationed in the area rescued the man and dispersed the attackers with pepper spray, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. There were no injuries reported in the late-morning incident, and no arrests were made. While most Israeli Jews stand in silence during the piercing memorial sirens, some extremist anti-Zionist haredim, who oppose the Jewish state on religious grounds, routinely ignore the sirens and go on with their regular activities. The man who was attacked by the mob said he had been aware that some haredim did not stop when the siren sounded, but said he'd never expected to be physically attacked for carrying a flag. "Not stopping when the sirens sound is one thing; physically assaulting someone with a flag is another," he said. He said he had felt inspired to raise an Israeli flag in the haredi neighborhood after seeing IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi speak about Zionism at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp last week, as well as by a recent TV documentary about an Israeli officer wounded in the Second Lebanon War, raising his hand in victory while being wheeled away by medics on a stretcher. Separately, a group of 50 haredim - some of whom were dressed in sackcloth - demonstrated against Zionism in Ramat Beit Shemesh on Thursday as Israel marked Independence Day, police said. There were no reports of violence during the afternoon protest.