Shot fired in air as ultra-Orthodox extremists protest COVID enforcement

A crowd of men gathered round a police volunteer who was standing next to the patrol vehicle, some of whom threw stones at him.

Israeli police officers clash with Ultra Orthodox Jewish men during a protest against the enforcement of coronavirus emergency regulations, in the Ultra Orthodox jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, October 4, 2020 (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
Israeli police officers clash with Ultra Orthodox Jewish men during a protest against the enforcement of coronavirus emergency regulations, in the Ultra Orthodox jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, October 4, 2020
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
A police volunteer fired a warning shot in the air when confronted by dozens of extremist ultra-Orthodox men during COVID-19 enforcement activity in Beit Shemesh on Tuesday, the police said.
A police patrol vehicle was dispatched to a school associated with one of the radical ultra-Orthodox communities in Beit Shemesh on Kedushat Aharon street in the Ramat Bet neighborhood.
The school was open and operating despite the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
Upon arrival, a policeman sought out the principal to “carry out enforcement procedures” but a crowd of men gathered round a police volunteer who was standing next to the patrol vehicle, some of whom threw stones at him.
“Feeling that his life was in danger, the volunteer fired into the air,” the police said, adding that there were no injuries in the incident.
The school belonged to the Neturei Karta sect, one of the most extreme and violent of the radical ultra-Orthodox communities in the country.
Beit Shemesh currently has the thirteenth largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, with 138 new cases per 10,000 residents and a 17% positive test rate.
An ultra-Orthodox official in the city denounced the incident, saying the police had “crossed a red line,” in firing a live round in the air.
“Beit Shemesh has seen much more stormy and violent protests than this little, spontaneous demonstration that took place now, and yet something like this has never happened,” the official told Ynet News.
“Live fire in the air? And against children? This is the most severe incident and we don’t understand how it happened.”