Haredim protest against Intel in J'lem

Haredis protest against

haredi intel 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
haredi intel 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Shouting "Shabbes, Shabbes!" some 2,000 haredim demonstrated outside the Intel Corporation's offices in Jerusalem's Har Hotzvim industrial park on Saturday to protest the company's operation of its factory on the Jewish day of rest. The protest began peacefully in the morning but deteriorated into violence in the afternoon when several hundred demonstrators began attacking journalists, pushing and stoning them. Demonstrators assailed Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) upon his arrival, complaining that he had failed to prevent the desecration of the holy day. Additional police were deployed in the vicinity to prevent motorists from driving into the protest area, but they kept their distance from the demonstrators to avoid agitating them, police sources said. According to a police spokesman, the great majority of demonstrators left voluntarily after a couple of hours, but about 300 protesters remained at the site for a time. They were later dispersed by police, who did not need to resort to force. Later in the day, around 100 protesters congregated on Shivtei Yisrael Street in the Me'a She'arim neighborhood and chanted slogans against the desecration of Shabbat by the nearby Carta parking lot, which began opening on Shabbat during the summer. No violence was reported and no arrests were made. Last minute attempts to prevent the Intel demonstration had failed after MK Uri Maklev (UTJ) met on Thursday with Intel Israel general manager Maxine Fassberg in the Knesset, together with Speaker Reuven Rivlin. Maklev's spokesman said after the meeting that while he appreciated the importance of bringing jobs to the capital, protecting the sanctity of Shabbat was more important. "Fassberg, meanwhile, apparently puts the value of employment and production before the Shabbat," said the spokesman, who added that Fassberg had promised to look into operating the factory with non-Jewish staff. Maklev was scheduled to meet with leading rabbis to discuss how best to respond to Fassberg's suggestions. In an attempt to prevent the demonstrators from breaking into the factory, Intel installed barbed wire around its perimeter. Intel Israel spokesman Koby Behar, who declined to comment on the Knesset meeting, said, "We at Intel Israel are operating in accordance with our business needs and in accordance with the law." But Maklev's spokesman said in response that Intel was breaking the Work and Rest Hours Law by employing Jews on Shabbat. "Intel has not received a permit to work on Shabbat," said the spokesman. The law prohibits the employment of Jews on Shabbat. Exceptions are made for those who work national security, public health or other sensitive fields, but commerical firms must prove that serious hardship would result from interrupting production and must receive a special permit from the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. Sources at Intel told The Jerusalem Post that stopping the production process could severely damage productivity and endanger the feasibility of Intel's operations in both Jerusalem and Kiryat Gat. Intel Israel employs approximately 6,500 people. Matthew Wagner contributed to this report.•