Haredim riot in Jerusalem, Kiryat Ata

Protest planned autopsy; throw stones at police, burn dumpsters

haredi 88 (photo credit: )
haredi 88
(photo credit: )
Hundreds of haredim rioted in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood Tuesday in protest over an autopsy carried out on the body of a haredi woman who was found dead in her northern Israel home overnight, police and rescue officials said. The rioters pelted police with stones and set fire to numerous dumpsters along the central intersection in the area, closing the area off to traffic and choking the surroundings with fire and smoke during the day-long protests. At the height of the protest, which began at mid-day, nearly 1,000 haredim gathered in the city's 'Sabbath Square' in the heart of Mea Shearim Tuesday afternoon as plumes of yellow smoke billowed above the blazing garbage bins. The demonstrators also sprayed tear gas at a motorist traveling in the area, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. There were no serious injuries immediately reported in the unrest, and police arrested 10 demonstrators on the scene. Later in the evening, about 150 rioters demonstrated against the autopsy in Kiryat Ata as well - the city where the deceased lived. The capital rioting broke out after word quickly spread in the close-knit haredi community that an Israeli court had approved a police request to carry out an autopsy on the body of Frida Weisel over the objection of her haredi family which opposed the autopsy for religious reasons. Weisel was found dead in her Kiryat Ata home late Monday night after an apparent burglary, police said. The autopsy carried out at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute indicated that the haredi woman had indeed been violently murdered as police suspected. During the afternoon, a mob of haredi rioters also attacked the morgue in protest over the autopsy, badly damaging property at the center, police said. Nine demonstrators were arrested on the scene. The Government Hospital Doctors Association on Tuesday deplored the violence of the haredi demonstrators. The union, whose members staff the institute, said even though the subject is a sensitive one, people must be prevented from taking the law into their own hands. "Vandalistic acts are gradually becoming the norm," said union chief Dr. Shlomo Arieli, who added that stories in the media against the institute (the illegal handling of body parts) has legitimized violent acts against staffers. The deceased woman's son-in-law is a prominent figure in northern Israel and is known for his philanthropic activities in the area, rescue officials said. The ultra-Orthodox community has traditionally opposed autopsies, and has periodically rioted in protest over such postmortems.