Haredi orthodox Jewish men protest 300 (R).
(photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
Buses are to return to parts of the capital’s ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim
neighborhood as soon as next week, a year and a half after Egged stopped
operating there due to violence against people and rock-throwing against the
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Buses continued to run on the main roads through Mea She’arim,
including many lines that use Strauss Street from the city center toward the
French Hill neighborhood and the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus
But lines 1 and 2, which go through other parts of Mea She’arim
and end at the Western Wall, were suspended in 2010.
This week, Egged ran
a few test-runs to check the response to the resumption of service on the No. 1
and No. 2 lines. Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the tests were
performed with heavy police security and without violence, though the haredi
media reported a few incidents of stone-throwing.
“We are happy that the
service will be renewed,” said Ben-Ruby, who added that negotiations with Egged
to resume service started about a month ago.
Resumption of the bus
service was one of the major goals of Jerusalem police commander Asst.-Ch. Nisso
Shaham, who took up his post in the spring and has repeatedly stressed that Mea
She’arim residents are not above the law.
Bus service was halted after
extremists repeatedly attacked Egged buses in 2010.
The violence was in
response to Egged’s refusal to create “mehadrin” lines, where men and women are
separated. The High Court of Justice has ruled that mehadrin lines are
“Egged does not run in Mea She’arim due to the Israel Police
recommendations, which are due to a lack of security posed to passengers from a
handful of haredi rioters who direct their rage at the buses, drivers and
passengers that enter the neighborhood,” Egged spokesman Ron Rettner said then.
He added that any change depended on the decisions of the police.
Ruby said buses would initially offer partial service on lines 1 and 2, though
he expected service to resume completely within several weeks. The police have
been in discussions with prominent rabbis in the neighborhood in an effort to
ensure safe passage of the buses.
On the streets of Mea She’arim on
Wednesday, many residents said they supported the resumption of the bus lines,
which would make it easier for the elderly.
“This is excellent,” said
Michal, a 23-year-old resident of the nearby Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood whose
parents live in Mea She’arim. “Lots of people are not connected to the
demonstrations [against the buses], but they’re the ones that get hurt by
“The community itself isn’t bothered by the buses,” she added. The
biggest concern for Line 1 was that the bus, which travels from the central bus
station to the Western Wall, attracts many curious tourists who get off in the
neighborhood in inappropriate clothes, Michal said.
A young couple from
Mea She’arim who refused to give their names said that after a year and a half
with no service, bus traffic would be extremely dangerous for children playing
in the street who are not used to the large vehicles. This concern was echoed by
neighborhood rabbis in the haredi media, though dismissed by police.
woman added that despite the hardships faced by car-less residents, the absence
of the buses had been a blessing.
“Without Egged, we’re able to breathe.
There’s no bus every five minutes and there’s no smoke,” she said.
can actually open the windows.”