Ultra-Orthodox Jews attacked Israeli police officers on Sunday with stones during the religious holiday of Purim, rekindling tensions around compliance with health measures to fight the coronavirus.
Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews threw stones and objects at law enforcement officers who came to remove police dolls suspended from electric wires in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, a journalist said. from AFP who heard demonstrators qualify the police as “Nazis”.
One of the dolls was inscribed with the name of the Prefect of Police Yaakov Shabtai, said the police, who said they had arrested a suspect.
Later that evening, a minibus stuck in a traffic jam and taken to task by passers-by rushed into the crowd crushing a man, according to police and a video released by the Israeli news site Ynet.
The man is in “critical” condition and has been taken to hospital, said Magen David Adom, the local equivalent of the Red Cross. The driver who fled the area was arrested by the police.
The festival of Purim marks according to Jewish tradition, the victory of the Jews against a vizier of the Persian Empire, Haman, in the fifth century BC. It is traditionally the occasion for carnival parades, costume parties and large popular gatherings.
Fearing an increase in contamination, Israel, which has begun the gradual exit from its third confinement, has established a nighttime curfew during the party, from Thursday to Sunday. And, on Sunday, the police tried to prevent the Israelis from going to Jerusalem to party, by controlling access to the city.
Authorities banned gatherings on the holiday last year as the pandemic was in its infancy. But the restrictions had not been followed, causing a wave of contaminations in the following days.
Clashes have been opposing for several weeks the Israeli police to ultra-Orthodox Jews (12% of the population) opposed to the containment measures. At the end of January, a bus was set on fire and its driver injured in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv.
Some rabbis had called on their followers not to close the yeshivot (Talmudic schools) during the three lockdowns established to fight the pandemic, despite the health measures announced by the unity government Benjamin Netanyahu, which nevertheless has Orthodox parties .
These new clashes between the police and the Orthodox come at a time when Israel is carrying out an intense vaccination campaign which has provided a first dose of vaccine to more than 4.65 million inhabitants, or more than half of its population.