Haredim try to block street in J'lem; 3 arrested

Over 100 Mea She'arim residents protest against desecration of Shabbat; around 30 join secular counter-protest.

Haredi riot 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Haredi riot 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Three people were arrested during a protest on Nevi'im Street in downtown Jerusalem on Saturday, when 30 left wing activists faced off against roughly 100 haredi (ultra-Orthodox) demonstrators.
Haredim hold weekly demonstrations on the street on Saturday afternoon to protest the fact that the street is open to traffic on Shabbat.
The street is on the edge of the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She'arim.
The weekly protests usually attract a few dozen haredim who yell "Shabbes!" at passing cars, though in the last few weeks the protests have grown larger with a number of arrests.
On Saturday a group of left wing activists planned a counter-protest and scuffled with the haredi protesters, leading to three arrests.
The issue of haredim protesting against the desecration of Shabbat is common in Jerusalem and demonstrations have been known to become violent.
Last summer, close to a thousand haredi men held a demonstration against the desecration of Shabbat, marking 100 weekends since the Karta parking lot in the capital began to open on the Jewish day of rest.
Police repeatedly stopped the participants from blocking the intersection of Strauss and Hanevi’im, on the southern border of the haredi area in central Jerusalem.
The area resonated with yells of “Shabbes” aimed at security personnel, photographers and cars driving by, as well as at a handful of secular counter-demonstrators on the other side of the street.
Police pushing back the front line of protesters nearing Rehov Hanevi’im were subject to the occasional cry of “Nazis,” or reminded of the verse that “those who desecrate [Shabbat] shall die,” but retained their cool and avoided giving the demonstrators the desired pretext to up the level of violence, that was largely limited to pushing.
Jonah Mandel contributed to this report.