Sabbath Rioting Spreads to Haifa; Jerusalem Public Inquiry Continues

Sabbath rioting, which received its initial impetus in Jerusalem, has spread to Haifa and resulted in the death of a non-religious Jew there, Yona Finer, who succumbed to a heart attack last Saturday during a clash between militant Orthodox demonstrators and a group of non-observant Jews.

The Haifa clash developed, according to police headquarters there, when a number of Sabbath observers who live near the city set up a roadblock to prevent vehicles from passing through on Saturday. When an empty bus arrived at the roadblock, passage was refused-by the Orthodox group. At that point, non-religious persons began to gather. A heated argument followed and fist fights broke out. During the fight, Mr. Finer suffered a heart attack and died instantly.

In Jerusalem, the public inquiry commission investigating Sabbath clashes heard today a local physician explain his difficulties with Sabbath demonstrators. Dr. S. Susskind declared that he had been attacked in the Geulah quarter, an Orthodox neighborhood, on a Saturday while driving to the home of a patient.

He testified that non-Orthodox doctors hesitated about entering the Orthodox quarters to treat patients on the Sabbath because of the possibility of attack. Religious physicians, he added, did not face this dilemma since most of them did not answer calls on the Sabbath.

The commission also-heard testimony today indicating that the Ministry of Transport has never issued licenses authorizing trucks to carry passengers on Saturdays in Jerusalem. Michael Barr, director of the Ministry’s traffic department, told the inquiry group that all requests for such licenses in the past have been turned down.

The witness added that permission for such passenger traffic was given most reluctantly even on other days of the week. He noted that trucks lacked adequate passenger safety arrangements and said that the practice was only allowed during mass excursions where there would be a shortage of busses and for student outings, whose organizers had to find the cheapest means of transport. Mr. Barr added that he sought to discourage even general truck travel on Saturdays, although the law banning such Sabbath traffic was not really specific.

Rabbi J. Melamed Cohen, testifying before the commission, expressed his conviction that a referendum in Jerusalem would show a clear majority of its citizens opposed to Sabbath traffic. Rabbi Cohen urged that such a referendum be conducted.

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