Haredim stone police car in Jerusalem

Relations with police worsen as haredim in capital are convinced their "blood has become devalued."

haredim riot cop argument 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
haredim riot cop argument 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
A police patrol car was stoned on Tuesday as relations between Jerusalem law enforcement and Jewish zealots continued to deteriorate in the wake of violent clashes in the capital. The patrol car arrived at a residence on Rehov David Yellin in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood in the morning to break up a domestic dispute, according to a police spokesman. But instead of dealing with the quarrel, police were forced to confront haredim who pelted their vehicle with rocks. Officers combed the area in a failed attempt to apprehend the attackers. "Why shouldn't we stone them after the way they have treated us," responded Shmuel Poppenheim, a spokesman for the Edah Haredit, a coalition of hassidic sects that includes Satmar, Toldot Aharon, Breslav and Dushinsky, which has spearheaded protests in Jerusalem against the operation of a parking lot on Shabbat near the Jaffa Gate. Relations between the police and haredim have seriously deteriorated over the past several days after two incidents in which haredi demonstrators were run over. On Friday evening, during the largest demonstrations yet to be staged since the opening of the parking lot two months ago, a haredi man named Kapil Schwartz was run over by an Arab driver. The ultra-Orthodox public is convinced, rightly or not, that police forced the Arab to drive forward, intentionally causing him to run over Schwartz. Schwartz is still in the hospital. In another incident on Sunday night, Ya'acov Klein, who is affiliated with the Satmar hassidic sect, was run down when he attempted to block a police car from leaving the scene of a stabbing homicide with the body of a deceased man. Haredi demonstrators believed the man was being brought to the L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir for an autopsy. Performing an autopsy unless absolutely necessary is considered strictly forbidden and a desecration of the dead by many haredi rabbis. Klein was seriously injured and is also still hospitalized. Police used stun grenades, tear gas and pepper gas, and shot live ammunition into the air to disperse several hundred haredim who had congregated around the scene of the stabbing. "Haredi blood had become devalued in the eyes of the police," Poppenheim said. "They have made no attempt to investigate the incidents. They refuse to give an account. We are really afraid for our lives." Haim Cohen, a spokesman for Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, considered the preeminent halachic authority of Ashkenazi haredi Jewry, said that while he did not want to comment on whether or not the demonstrations were justified, the police was deliberately escalating the tensions in Jerusalem in order to draw attention away from criticism of law enforcement authorities for not doing enough to fight the recent wave of high profile murders. "It is interesting that deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem comes just a week after the police were so severely criticized by the media for not protecting Israelis from hooliganism," Cohen said.