300 ultra-Orthodox worshipers arrested for breaking into holy site

According to a police spokesperson, the incident was carried out by “hundreds of people” who “trampled over the emergency regulations.”

Mount Meron (photo credit: HADAR YAHAV)
Mount Meron
(photo credit: HADAR YAHAV)
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox extremist worshipers broke into the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron Tuesday afternoon despite the police closure of the tomb due to crowding concerns and the danger of COVID-19 contraction. Police arrested 300 of the worshipers, a police spokesperson reported on Tuesday evening.
Video footage from the site showed ultra-Orthodox pilgrims who had traveled to the holy site for the Lag Ba’omer minor holiday which took place on Tuesday breaking through one door and the lower window of another door in order to gain access to the tomb of the Talmudic-era sage.
According to a police spokesman, the incident was carried out by “30 to 40 extremists” and police soon arrived to remove them from the site.
The spokesman added that some of the ultra-Orthodox worshippers threw water bottles at the police, and additional video footage from the site showed scuffles and physical confrontations between riot police and worshippers at the site, including calls of “Nazis” towards the police personnel.
Extremists from radical ultra-Orthodox communities in Jerusalem violated social-distancing orders on Monday night as well when they gathered in the capital’s Mea Shearim neighborhood for a traditional Lag Ba’Omer bonfire.
During the course of Tuesday, the police were also required to break up communal bonfires in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, the city worst hit by the COVID-19 epidemic outside of Jerusalem.