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Mayor threatened over lot’s Sabbath opening

JERUSALEM (JTA) — New riots broke out over the Sabbath opening of a Jerusalem parking lot, as the city’s mayor received e-mailed death threats.

Some 57 fervently Orthodox protesters were arrested Sunday for their participation in riots Saturday against the opening of the Karta lot, near the Old City’s Jaffa Gate. Following the arrests, demonstrators began blocking city streets, as well as setting fire to garbage Dumpsters.

Also Sunday, police began an investigation into death threats received by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and one of his deputies, Ha’aretz reported. Security at Barkat’s office and home was increased.

A 20-year-old haredi man was seriously wounded in protests Saturday as the demonstrators threw rotten fruit, rocks and soiled diapers at police in Jerusalem’s fervently Orthodox neighborhoods. Five police officers and  6-year-old boy also were lightly injured in the rioting.

At least 1,000 counter-demonstrators who support Barkat’s decision to open the lot to Saturday visitors to Jerusalem protested nearby.

On June 25, the Jerusalem District Court agreed to a request by Jerusalem’s municipality to keep the city-run Safra parking garage closed on the Sabbath and instead open the nearby, privately owned Karta lot, which is in receivership.

Thousands of fervently Orthodox Jerusalemites had turned out for a protest on Friday night despite the ruling, which some cast as a compromise because it allowed the city-owned lot to remain closed.

Two weeks ago, haredi protesters and police clashed following the opening of the municipal lot near City Hall, with six policemen sustaining injuries from thrown objects.

Barkat announced at the time that the lot would be closed for two weeks so that a compromise could be forged.
 
 

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