Hundreds of haredim riot in Beit Shemesh

Ultra-orthodox protesters throw stones, burn trashcans, 3 arrested; Yishai comes out against dividing city.

haredi protest 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
haredi protest 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Police on Thursday dispersed hundreds of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) throwing stones, blocking traffic and burning trashcans in Beit Shemesh.
Three people were arrested during the disturbance in the city that has become the focus of the Israeli media after a Channel 2 report revealed haredi extremists verbally attacking an eight-year old girl for failing to dress modestly.
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No injuries were reported in Thursday's disturbance.
Earlier on Thursday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai came out strongly against splitting Beit Shemesh into separate haredi and non-haredi cities, telling a haredi radio station that such a move would be disastrous for the haredim.
Netanyahu's associates confirmed the the prime minister had discussed such a possibility with Yishai but said it was just one of many alternatives considered for the city and it was unlikely to be adopted.
When speaking to mainstream media, Yishai said he opposed the split because he did not want to divide the Jewish people, but when addressing haredi listeners, his reasoning was more candid.
"When I became interior minister in 2003, there had been a recommendation to split the city and already then I said it was not the right thing to do," Yishai told the radio station Kol Barama. "It would create a haredi city lacking income, property tax and other taxes, with no industry. It's not the right thing to do."
Yishai has spoken out against haredi extremists. He revealed that he had received threats in the past from the haredi extremist Sikrikim group.
Deputy Health Minster Ya'acov Litzman also said Thursday that haredi extremists
have been sending him death threats in recent months. Litzman said the threats have forced him to travel with a guard for the past four months.
Sources close to Litzman blamed the Sikrikim, which they said is responsible for inciting the recent women's exclusion phenomenon. They said that as a deputy minister, he does not automatically receive the protection given to ministers, but after receiving the threats, his protection was increased.