Beit Shemesh mayor rescued by police as protesters trash her car

Mayor Aliza Bloch attacked by fringe group of Ultra-Orthodox radicals during tour of new Ultra-Orthodox school in Beit Shemesh.

By World Israel News Staff

The mayor of Beit Shemesh was forced to abandon her car and seek shelter in a nearby building, after she came under assault by a group of fringe Ultra-Orthodox protesters Tuesday.

The incident occurred Tuesday evening in a predominantly Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Ramat Beit Shemesh, during Mayor Aliza Bloch’s visit to a newly-opened school built for the Ultra-Orthodox sector.

During Bloch’s visit, a small group of radical anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators began throwing stones and other objects at Bloch’s car and at the new school and sparked fires around the building.

Bloch was forced to remain in the school building until police arrived on the scene, roughly half an hour after the riot began.

The demonstrators clashed with officers, one of whom was injured during the riot.

Police managed to safely extract Bloch via the back entrance of the school.

Elected as mayor in 2018, Bloch unseated then-incumbent Mayor Moshe Abutbul, a member of the Ultra-Orthodox Shas party. The election sharply divided the city’s population along sectorial lines, with Bloch’s razor-thin victory raising the ire of fringe Ultra-Orthodox elements in Beit Shemesh, who painted Bloch as an enemy of the Ultra-Orthodox public.

Read  New IDF draft bill draws criticism from politicians for its lack of Orthodox recruitment

Following Tuesday’s attack, Bloch emphasized in a statement that the rioters came from a radical fringe within the Ultra-Orthodox population, and did not represent the majority of the city’s Ultra-Orthodox residents.

Ultra-Orthodox lawmakers condemned the attack, with Health Minister and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel (Shas) offering his support to Bloch.

“I spoke last night with Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch after the violent attack she experienced. Violence is a sick evil that must be uprooted. I expect law enforcement to act immediately to protect local elected officials from anyone who raises a hand to them.”

Other lawmakers from both the Opposition and the Coalition lambasted the rioters, with Religious Zionist Party MK Ohad Tal tweeting: “The brutal violence directed last night against Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch is a shocking event that should not become a norm. Here, too, we must not let a handful of violent extremists rule us. The enforcement agencies must punish those violators.”

National Unity party chairman and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz lauded Bloch, while excoriating the “extremists” responsible for the attack.

“I supported Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch this morning following the difficult incident last night. Aliza is an example of a public figure who serves all parts of society – religious, secular, and all Beit Shemesh residents as they are. The extremists’ behavior toward her is not only condemnable, but it also endangers and harms Israeli solidarity. For years, I’ve said that Beit Shemesh is a case study of Israeli society with its diverse population, and in this test, we must succeed as one people.”