Police officers rescued Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch from harm on Tuesday night after haredi (ultra-Orthodox) protesters besieged her, rioting and smashing the windows of her car, the Israel Police reported.
The protesters gathered in Ramat Beit Shemesh to protest against Bloch’s tour of a new haredi school building that is set to open.
The protesters threw objects at the building, set fires near the school compound, and threw stones at police officers, injuring one of them.
Due to the violence, Bloch stayed inside the building for about half an hour. She was later ushered safely out the back door by police officers.
A couple of hours later, Bloch said she knew her attackers represented only a small group among the haredi community, adding that she would not let them scare her from continuing her work as mayor.
Public officials condemn attacks on Beit Shemesh's mayor
Health and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel (Shas) on Wednesday said: “I spoke last night with Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch after the violent attack she experienced. Violence is a sick evil that must be uprooted. I expect law enforcement to act immediately to protect local elected officials from anyone who raises a hand to them.”
National Unity leader Benny Gantz on Wednesday said: “I supported Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch this morning following the difficult incident last night. Aliza is an example of a public figure who serves all parts of society – religious, secular, and all Beit Shemesh residents as they are. The extremists’ behavior toward her is not only condemnable, but it also endangers and harms Israeli solidarity. For years, I’ve said that Beit Shemesh is a case study of Israeli society with its diverse population, and in this test, we must succeed as one people.”
President Isaac Herzog spoke to Bloch after the attack, his office said.
“The president strengthened the mayor and strongly condemned the violence shown toward her and emphasized that this is unacceptable and intolerable,” it said.
Religious Zionist Party MK Ohad Tal on Wednesday wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “The brutal violence directed last night against Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch is a shocking event that should not become a norm. Here, too, we must not let a handful of violent extremists rule us. The enforcement agencies must punish those violators.”
Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas on Wednesday wrote on X: “I condemn any harm to local government officials. This dangerous phenomenon must be stopped immediately. Violent extremists must not be allowed to harm heads of authorities and candidates from all sectors. The enforcement agencies should act so that there are no more cases like the severe attack experienced yesterday by the mayor of Beit Shemesh, especially these days as we approach the elections for the local authorities.”
Municipal elections are to take place on Thursday. Yesh Atid and Otzma Yehudit have forbidden their candidates from joining a coalition with the other.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who is running for reelection alongside former New York consul-general Asaf Zamir, on Wednesday wrote: “Mayors and authorities became targets for harm and elimination. Yesterday evening it was the mayor of Beit Shemesh who was forced to barricade herself in the school building she visited. Such things can happen in a place where democracy and human rights are not respected.”