Sabbath riot on the road to orthodoxy

Israel in turmoil: US visit leaves few options for talks as ultra- religious Jews increase pressure on holy city's secular population

"It is the Sabbath for you, too," shouted a black-coated ultra- orthodox young man as he waved his fist at a helicopter flying over Bar- Ilan street in Jerusalem on Saturday evening. A few minutes later, ultra- orthodox teenagers dragged a man in a red helmet off his motorcycle as he demonstrated his right to drive down Bar-Ilan, a much- used main road in Jerusalem, during the Sabbath.

The battle to close the road is at the centre of the struggle between religious and secular Israelis, because it bisects two deeply religious districts in Jerusalem. In the wake of their successes in the May elections, the ultra-orthodox, or Haredim, hope they will finally succeed in stopping traffic between dusk on Friday and dusk on Saturday.

"It will be closed within two months," predicted David, an ultra-orthodox, watching police horses trying to drive back demonstrators and onlookers. Secular Israelis fear he is right. Israel, the man who had been knocked off his motorcycle to the jeers of onlookers, said, as he picked himself up: "I know it is my duty as a citizen of Jerusalem to drive here."

Much of the violence during the riot came from the police. I was standing outside a clothes shop with some children from the neighbourhood when we were suddenly attacked by the riot squad, one of whom grabbed me round the neck until he was restrained by one of his officers. Later we were soaked by water cannon which drenched bystanders indiscriminately.

Avraham Ravitz, a member of the Knesset for the Torah Judaism party, said: "What happened tonight was a pogrom by bloodthirsty police officers. They beat children and pregnant women. I told them the protests would cease if they left, but they just wanted to hit the people."

This is something of an exaggeration, but the police were extraordinarily aggressive. At one point, a senior policeman with a bullhorn shouted at us to get out of the way. "Relax," said an Israeli journalist. "I don't want to relax," the officer yelled back. A boy crossing the road was grabbed by police and dragged off shouting: "I want to go home! I want to go home!"

The anger of the Haredim was directed more at the police than at secular demonstrators from the left-wing Meretz party. "If it wasn't for the police, all people would do is shout 'Shabbes, Shabbes' [Yiddish for the Sabbath] and throw a few stones," said a bystander.

Secular Israelis believe they are being squeezed out of Jerusalem, where a growing proportion of the Jewish population are Haredim. A sign of the growing intolerance was a notice on a lamp-post in Bar-Ilan which advertised a three-room flat for sale "for religious people only." It comes complete with "a Shabbat elevator", which operates automatically, so that the user does not have to press the button and make forbidden use of electricity.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment