Israeli police arrested 28 people on Tuesday in connection with an alleged extortion plot to force major companies to advertise in an ultra-Orthodox Israeli newspaper, according to a report in Ynet.
The paper, called Hapeles, is published by the followers of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, a Jerusalem-based ultra-Orthodox rabbi who has feuded in recent years with other ultra-Orthodox leaders.
According to Ynet, executives at major companies were bombarded with faxes, phone calls and emails demanding that they advertise in Hapeles. “Some of the people were polite and some really threatened me,” one unnamed executive told Ynet. “From the other side of the line were children and adults who cursed, screamed and screamed.”
Another unnamed executive told the paper that mysterious callers had phoned his mother. “My mother told me that one morning they called her and said to her, ‘Your son is taking a side and you will pay the price for it, the company will also pay a personal price,’” the executive said.
Residents of the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim attempted to disrupt the arrests by tipping over dumpsters in the middle of the street.