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Protest Against City of David Dig

About 2,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews caused a mammoth traffic jam in downtown Jerusalem this evening in a protest demonstration against the resumption of archaeological excavations in the City of David just outside the Old City walls. Several policemen were injured in clashes with religious zealots. Twenty-five protestors were arrested.

The Education Ministry last month licensed Hebrew University archaeologist Yigal Shilo to continue with the digging after it was suspended because of claims by Orthodox Jews that ancient Jewish cemeteries were being desecrated. The area where digging is permitted, known as Area G, was delineated in an agreement reached between the Ministry and the Chief Rabbinate.

The Orthodox demonstrators said they did not seek a license from the “Zionist police” for their prayer and psalm-singing session in what is known as “Shabbes Square,” a traditional Jerusalem site for Orthodox rallies. Cordons of police prevented attempts by the demonstrators to move toward the digging site. But a melee developed in which a policewoman was knocked unconscious and several regular and border policemen sustained injuries.

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