Woman injured by ultra-Orthodox mob

Natalie Mashiach hit with stone in Beit Shemesh when zealots vandalize her car.

The Jerusalem Post/January 25, 2012

A woman was injured in Beit Shemesh when she was attacked by ultra-Orthodox men while hanging up posters for the Mifal Hapayis national lottery on Tuesday.

According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, Natalie Mashiach, 27, was accosted by several men in the ultra-Orthodox Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet neighborhood, who demanded that she leave the area.

They surrounded her car and pelted it with stones, smashing several windows, and punctured her tires. One stone struck Mashiach on the head, lightly injuring her.

"I was afraid for my life. I thought I was going to die," she said.

"They came right up to my face and spat at me, so I went back to the car and called the police," she told the press after the incident.

She had called the police who told her to wait where she was, but while they were on their way to her, 10 young men approached her car, smashed the windows and threw bleach at her, she said. "Fifty, maybe 100 people were watching and pleaded with them to let me leave, but then they threw this liquid on me, which only afterwards I realized was bleach, and I thought they were going to set me on fire, and that this was it. I was going to die."

Police arrived quickly, dispersed the crowd and arrested three men.

Mayor Moshe Abutbul said, "I again condemn violence of any kind carried out by extremist elements from both sides, and call on the police to enforce the law with severity and with zero tolerance for those breaking the law and disturbing public order."

Rabbi Dov Lipman, head of the Committee to Save Beit Shemesh that lobbies against ultra-Orthodox extremism in the city, said Abutbol's comments are "part of the problem."

"When a woman is attacked in this way, condemnation must be unconditional," he said. "He is trying to minimize the extent of haredi extremism in Beit Shemesh when he should be conducting all-night sessions to work out how to solve the problem."

According to several haredi websites, Mashiach went into the foyer of a synagogue to hang flyers but behaved immodestly when asked to leave.

Lipman said that he had spoken to an ultra-Orthodox witness who denied this version of events and said that Mashiach was outside the synagogue when she was attacked.

Lipman added, "I applaud the police for arresting suspects immediately and for promising more arrests.

There is no doubt that the police force has been more aggressive since we began our campaign to save the city and since a new chief took over two weeks ago."

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