Memorial rally for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
A riot Wednesday night involving over 300 haredim, who were protesting limited
visitation hours at the grave of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,
resulted in six arrests, police said Thursday.
According to police, a
coterie of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators began setting trash bins and tires
alight at 10 p.m.
to block off Jerusalem’s Bar- Ilan junction in protest
of the Sanhedria Cemetery’s evening closing hours, which they said prevented
them from praying at the late rabbi’s burial site.
Holding up placards
stating, “Let us prostrate before the grave of the Maran” – a title of reverence
reserved for great rabbis – one of the protesters demanded that the gravesite be
accessible 24 hours a day so Jews could “recite psalms and request mercy for the
people of Israel,” Israel National News reported.
Israel Police spokesman
Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that the riot had started because the haredi
protesters were dissatisfied with the visiting hours. He said six men had been
arrested for throwing rocks at responding officers.
Rosenfeld added that
no officers had been hurt during the disturbance.
During the violence, a
Special Patrol Unit (Yasam) officer allegedly attacked Yair Sherki, a religious
affairs reporter for Army Radio, who was attempting to interview one of the
protesters and sustained injuries to his legs.
Asked about the attack,
Rosenfeld said Thursday evening that he had no information regarding the
In response to the alleged assault against Sherki, a union
representing the country’s religious affairs reporters condemned the
confrontation and demanded that police prosecute the officer in
“As reporters in the field, we often witness police violence,”
the statement read.
“We demand that the Israel Police prosecute the
brutal cops. Freedom of the press is a fundamental principle in a democratic
country, and it is time the police internalized that.”
It remains unclear
which officer or officers allegedly attacked the reporter.
in October at age 93 led to the largest funeral procession in the country’s
history. The capital came to a veritable standstill when at least 800,000 people
gathered from across the nation to descend on the cemetery and mourn the
Due to the heightened sensitivity surrounding visitation to
Yosef’s grave, the cemetery has agreed to extend visiting hours, police said.