Israel’s Chief Rabbi slams ultra-Orthodox rioters: ‘No justification… desecration of God’

After ultra-Orthodox rioters torch bus, attack police, Chief Rabbi says they desecrate God and do not represent the majority.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Chief Rabbi of Israel in an exceptional public statement Monday lashed out at ultra-Orthodox Jewish rioters, saying there was no justification for their violence that was a blasphemy against God.

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef issued a video statement after rioters in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak attacked police Sunday evening who were attempting to enforce coronavirus health restrictions, burning a passenger bus in Bnei Brak and damaging a light rail passenger train in Jerusalem.

“I have heard with great pain and shock about the severe violence and the blasphemy that has taken place in recent days in several places around the country,” Rabbi Yosef said. “This is violent behavior of a handful of youths who are detached from Torah, decency, and good character.”

“Certainly there is no justification for such serious acts,” he stressed. “Those who do such acts in the name of Torah are desecrating God’s Name in public …This minority stains the image of the entire haredi population, the vast majority of whom are very far from behaviors such as these.”

Several extremist sects in ultra-orthodox communities around the country ordered their followers to ignore coronavirus lockdown restrictions which closed schools and prohibited indoor gatherings greater than five people – forcing synagogues to hold daily prayers outside.

Over the past weeks there have been repeated clashes with ultra-Orthodox groups who refuse to abide by the restrictions, even as coronavirus infections rates soar in those communities, in part due to the violations of health guidelines.

“I expect all Israeli citizens to adhere to the guidelines, and this includes all sectors, including the ultra-Orthodox sector,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted Sunday. “I must point out that most of the ultra-Orthodox sector adheres to the guidelines, but there are exceptions, and exceptions that work in an unacceptable way.”

The police said they will not be dissuaded from carrying out their mission.

“For several months now, Israeli police officers have been enforcing corona regulations for public health,” police said in a statement. “This is a complex and unappreciated task, but we will continue to carry it out on an equal basis throughout the country, out of a sense of mission for the public.”

“In recent weeks we have witnessed severe, unbridled and dangerous violence directed at police officers by a group of extremists,” the statement said, adding that several police officers had been injured and rioters were even recruiting children to thwart the enforcement.

“Violence of any kind will not deter the Israel Police from continuing to carry out its role, as required of it. Violence against police officers or civilians will encounter determined and uncompromising enforcement,” the police said.