Police Clash With Hasidim in Tel Aviv Suburb

By Forward Staff

Published January 05, 2007, issue of January 05, 2007.
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Security officers were assaulted this week by dozens of Orthodox Jews as they attempted to enter a Hasidic-owned hotel in the Tel Aviv suburb of B’nai Brak to track down a Jerusalem man under house arrest there, after the homing device on his court-ordered electronic bracelet went dead, according to a report in the daily Yediot Aharonot. The man claimed he had removed the bracelet on his rabbi’s orders because it violated the Sabbath.

Arrested during the anti-gay rioting that accompanied the Jerusalem gay pride festival last November, the man had been released on bail but ordered to stay in the Satmar Hasidic hotel in the mostly Orthodox town of B’nai Brak while awaiting trial, according to Yediot. He had reportedly been removing his bracelet each Friday for weeks, prompting repeated alarms at the headquarters of the private security firm contracted by the court to monitor the electronic device.

According to Yediot, three agents from the security firm approached the hotel Monday, January 1, after the man’s homing device still failed to respond. Several dozen Hasidic men poured out of the hotel, overturned the agents’ vehicle, punctured its tires and smashed its windows. The agents fled and radioed for police assistance, with a group of Hasidim in pursuit, the newspaper said.

A large force of metropolitan Tel Aviv police arrived with sirens blaring, Yediot reported, and the rioters quickly dispersed. Officers gave chase, but were unable to make arrests and instead returned to the hotel to retrieve the damaged vehicle, fearing that it would be set afire. “Meanwhile, the arrested man with the electronic bracelet emerged from the hotel and patiently explained to the police the problem of Sabbath desecration caused by the bracelet,” the newspaper concluded.

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