Police brace for more haredi protests

Demonstrations against opening of Shabbat parking lot expected to continue for at least several weeks.

haredim sacks 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
haredim sacks 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Police are preparing for renewed haredi protests in Jerusalem this weekend, against the opening of a parking lot near the Jaffa Gate on Shabbat. The demonstrations, which will enter their second month, are expected to continue for several more weeks at the very least, according to haredi organizers. The protests are being organized by the radical anti-Zionist Eda Haredit organization to protest the desecration of the Sabbath caused by the opening of the Carta lot on Saturdays to accommodate visitors to the Old City. The lot is about 1 km. from the nearest haredi neighborhood. Citing public safety concerns, Mayor Nir Barkat has rejected calls by the group's leaders to shut the parking garage on Saturdays. Barkat spokesman Evyatar Elad said Thursday that the mayor sees the issue as water under the bridge. "From our perspective, this is a decision which has been made, and we are no longer dealing with it at all," he said. Sixty-five haredim have been arrested over the past month, in three weekends of violent protests, police said, including 10 who remain in custody. Police plan to press charges against all the suspects for taking part in the riots. The controversy, which erupted on June 6 after the city opened a municipal garage under Kikar Safra on Saturdays, for free and operated by a non-Jew. On Saturday, June 27, the private Carta lot was opened instead. The original decision to open the parking garage on Saturdays was made at the urging of police who said that double parked cars on major thoroughfares were causing a safety hazard.