There have been more religious riots in Jerusalem, pitting
ultra-Orthodox Jews against the secular Israeli government.
ultra-Orthodox Jews threw stones, bricks and bottles at police, turning
religious neighborhoods here in Jerusalem into what looked like a war
zone. Demonstrators overturned trash bins and set them on fire. Police
responded with water canons and mounted units stormed into the crowd.
erupted three days ago, after police arrested an ultra-Orthodox woman
for alleged child abuse. She is accused of starving the child, but
Rabbi Yitzhak Kirschenboim says that is a lie.
The rabbi told
the crowd that the accused woman is devout, and that the secular
authorities are persecuting the religious community.
"We are stronger than the police," he said, "and we will fight until the last drop of blood."
Israel's Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said violence will not be tolerated.
told Israel Radio that all those who throw stones and disturb the
public order will be punished with the full force of the law.
riots point to a rift in Israeli society between the ultra-Orthodox and
the secular Jewish majority. Many of the ultra-Orthodox are
anti-Zionists who believe that the Messiah alone can establish a Jewish
state and that it must be governed by religious law.
riots began last month, when the Jerusalem Municipality opened a
parking lot on Saturdays. That angered the ultra-Orthodox who believe
that driving is a desecration of the Sabbath. The violence has angered
secular Jews who describe it as "religious coercion." They say that
Israel is a modern, democratic country where religion is a matter of