Police reportedly have reached an understanding with the heads of various Bnei Brak yeshivas that COVID-19 regulations will not be enforced so long as yeshiva students refrain from attacking police, yeshiva heads told Haaretz on Saturday night.
According to the yeshiva heads, the deal was supposedly made back in September, after several instances of police officers being attacked while trying to enforce the coronavirus lockdown.
This secret arrangement is not entirely without precedent. Haaretz reported in October similar deals made with haredim (ultra-Orthodox) in Jerusalem, which eventually resulted in an investigation opened by the Justice Ministry. Israel Police have denied the existence of such an arrangement.
And, according to the yeshiva heads, the deal would have remained a secret, had police not come into Bnei Brak on Thursday, which resulted in police officers and residents sustaining injuries, with at least six arrests made as officers confronted thousands of members of the Vizhnitz Hassidic sect.
Following the incident, the Vizhnitz grand rabbi, Rabbi Yisroel Hager, announced on Saturday that schools would be reopened, describing Torah study as "an essential service."
“I hereby order in the open that Vizhnitz schools be opened and that these words be published in the official ultra-Orthodox Hamodia newspaper tomorrow,” Hager said, according to the Kikar Shabbat news website.
“If the police come[,] tell them to approach the general manager of the schools, which is me, Rabbi Yisroel Hager, who lives at 4 Torah Haim Street, Bnei Brak,” the rabbi added.
Jeremy Sharon and Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.