Police Officers Injured in Jerusalem Riots

By Jonathan Lis (Haaretz) and Haaretz Service

Published July 16, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Riots in Jerusalem over the recent arrest of an ultra-Orthodox woman suspected of starving her 3-year-old son escalated as demonstrators concluded their third consecutive day of violent protests with no indication that they were planning to ease up.

So far ten police officers have been lightly hurt by stone throwers. Three of them were taken to the emergency room at Hadassah hospital after sustaining head injuries. All in all, hundreds of police officers participated in the dispersal efforts, including officers called up from other districts. 20 demonstrators were detained for questioning.

The riots erupted Tuesday when the news of the arrest became public. The ultra-Orthodox community was outraged that the woman, who belongs to one of the most extreme ultra-Orthodox sects, was in custody, rejecting suspicions that she had systematically starved her son over the course of the last two years. The boy is currently hospitalized in serious condition and weighing only seven kilograms.

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox protesters hurled rocks at police late Thursday night on Highway 1 near the Haredi neighborhood of Beit Yisrael. Police arrested dozens of people and used water cannons to disperse the crowds.

Hundreds of people also arrived at a rally, in support of the mother, held at Jerusalem’s Shabbat Square. The demonstrators called out insults against Hadassah hospital, where the ill boy is recuperating.

Earlier Thursday, Jerusalem District police chief Aharon Franco voiced harsh criticism over the failure of the Haredi leadership to speak out against the violent riots.

The riots escalated Thursday morning when protesters threw rocks at several sites within the city, set fire to garbage receptacles and vandalized traffic lights. The damage caused by the riots has been estimated at NIS 200,000 so far, in addition to the injuries of several municipal workers who were hurt by stone throwers.

“There is not one sane voice within the Haredi community that will rise up and cry out against this phenomenon,” Franco said. “They have rabbis, they have leadership, and I haven’t heard the rabbis or sages crying out.”

Franco warned of the dangers inherent in the riots, saying “they tore apart traffic lights, and without traffic lights we could see fatal traffic accidents. They dismantled the mechanisms in electric poles, and people could be electrocuted. I haven’t found anywhere in the Bible where it says these things are permissible.”

“We could have released the woman from custody a week ago,” Franco went on to say, “if her attorney would have agreed to a psychiatric evaluation. It is possible to release her tomorrow if her family members agree to such an evaluation.”

Jerusalem Police on Thursday said they would ask for the woman’s remand to be extended, although the court has already ruled out an additional extension.

“At this stage, we still have not succeeded in seeing the family’s other children,” said Eli Cohen, the lead investigator in the case. “We tried on several occasions to meet with the other children, but their father is not cooperating with police.”

Cohen added that police need to investigate further and that is the reason they plan to ask for the mother’s remand extension.

“The mother has maintained her silence and did not cooperate during the investigation,” said Cohen. “During the early stages of the probe, we asked that she be evaluated by a psychiatrist, but unfortunately her lawyer has refused.”

Cohen also said that the family’s behavior “would not embarrass an organized crime syndicate.” He added that the family has threatened doctors and social workers and has caused severe damage to the welfare ministry offices.

Police are taking precautionary measures to ensure the child is not abducted from Hadassah University Hospital although no such threats have been made.

The city on Thursday closed off traffic on Bar Ilan Street and the Eshkol tunnel in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, after protesters filled the area with garbage during their demonstrations there the night before.

The Jerusalem city council said it could not clear the obstructing garbage for fear of more violence against municipal employees, though noted that it recognized the inconvenience residents may be experiencing.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 28 protesters were arrested overnight and one officer was lightly wounded. The protesters burned dozens of trash cans and garbage was strewn across city streets. Police used horses and a water cannon to control the protests.

On Wednesday, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat ordered his municipality to halt all services to the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Geula and Mea Shearim.

The services were halted in light of fear for the safety of municipality employees, as a Border Policeman policeman was hurt in one of the scuffles, when a rock was hurled at him by a protester. Twenty rioters were arrested as the protests spread from Jerusalem to Beit Shemesh.

“The municipality regrets the inconvenience to residents of these neighborhoods who are not involved in the incidents occurring there at this time,” said a statement issued by the Jerusalem municipality spokesman. “We hope to renew the services soon.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.