25 arrested, 6 police wounded at haredi protest in Jerusalem

Local Yossi Bergman told Ynet that the protest againt new light-rail routes did not accurately reflect the feelings of most of the neighborhood’s residents.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Police and haredi demonstrators violently clashed during a demonstration against new proposed light rail routes on Monday evening in Jerusalem, leading to the arrest of at least 25.

Some 4,000 haredi protesters gathered at the Bar Ilan junction, incensed by a decision by the Jerusalem municipality to construct four new light rail routes, some of which would pass through haredi neighborhoods.

Demonstrators blocked major intersections, set fire to light rail construction equipment and city dumpsters, and tore down fences surrounding the light rail construction sites.

“Haredi Jews will not agree in any way with the destruction of their neighborhoods, and haredi Jerusalem residents will not rest until this terrible edict has been overturned,” read a statement from the protest’s organizers.

Police used water cannons and officers on horseback to try to disperse the protesters. Six officers were wounded in clashes with demonstrators.

Protesters reportedly called police “Nazis” and racially harassed an officer of Ethiopian Jewish descent, telling him to “go back to Ethiopia.”

A female officer was called a “Shiksa,” a derogatory term for a non-Jewish woman.

One of the detained protesters was found to be in possession of a knife, pepper spray, and a club.

Orthodox journalist and Bar Ilan local Yossi Bergman told Ynet that the protest did not accurately reflect the feelings of most of the neighborhood’s residents.

“Most of the residents of the neighborhood are interested in the train, because only then will the congestion disappear and there will finally be quiet for the residents of the neighborhood,” he said. “Most of the protesters are not residents of the neighborhood.”

Jerusalem’s only light rail line runs along Jaffa Street, a major thoroughfare in the heart of the city.

According to a report from the Israeli Ministry of Transport, some 850,785 people used the Jerusalem light rail in 2017.