Five police officers hurt as Haredi riots renew in Jerusalem

Haaretz, Israel/August 29, 2009

Five police officers were lightly wounded and 13 protestors were arrested as ultra-Orthodox protestors renewed demonstrations against the opening of Jerusalem's Karta parking lot on Shabbat.

Hours earlier, a woman motorist was lightly wounded in the clashes.

Ultra-Orthodox protesters have converged on the parking lot every week since the Jerusalem municipality decided this summer to allow it to open on the Sabbath.

The motorist was wounded after shards of glass as well as stones were hurled at her car as she was driving along nearby Bar Ilan Street.

Six Haredi protestors were arrested during the previous Saturday's rallies, after protestors attempted to block the entrance to the parking lot as well as the adjacent street.

On Friday, Police said an ultra-Orthodox Jew threw himself under the wheels of an idle car and was moderately wounded during similar protests.

Driving is a violation of the Sabbath under Jewish law. The protesters have scuffled with police and some have thrown themselves in front of vehicles to try to prevent them from driving.

On Friday, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmulik Ben-Ruby said it was not clear whether the driver knew the man had crawled underneath his car when it was stopped at a traffic light.

The protester was dragged several dozen yards before the vehicle stopped, Ben-Ruby said. The driver fled the scene and police set up roadblocks to try to apprehend him, he said.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox sect known as the Eda Haharedit said Friday that they intend to strengthen their protest against the opening of the Karta garage on Sabbath, Army Radio reported on Friday.

Hundreds of protesters have been gathering in Jerusalem on a weekly basis in the Haredi neighborhood of Mea Shearim for the past two months to protest the municipality's decision to open the parking lot. The protests and prayer assemblies planned for Friday are an attempt to alter the mayor's decision and end the desecration of Sabbath.

One of the sect's leaders, Joseph Rosenfeld, said that he thinks the ultra-Orthodox community hasn't lost its battle against the municipality despite the fact that the garage has remained open. He also said that distancing the secular population from the garage is considered "a great victory".

Yoelish Krois, one of the protests leaders said that "our protests have harmed the secular tourist industry."

The Jerusalem municipality said in response that it will not yield to the demonstrators' demands and plans to keep the parking lot open on Sabbath.

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