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Haredim riot in Beit Shemesh

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds of haredi Orthodox men rioted in Beit Shemesh.

The haredim set trash bins alight and threw rocks at police and bystanders as police attempted to disperse the crowd on Thursday evening.

Three rioters were arrested; there were no reports of injuries.

The disturbances reportedly began next to a Modern Orthodox girls’ school that has been at the center of controversy over violence against women by haredim. Some haredi men from an adjacent neighborhood have harassed and spit at young girls and their mothers on their way to the school, accusing them of immodesty.

A recent Israeli television report focused national attention on one of the students, 8-year-old Na’ama Margolis, who became afraid to walk to school. On Thursday morning, following a week of school vacation for Chanukah, Margolis returned to the school, escorted by her mother and television cameras.

Thousands gathered in Beit Shemesh on Tuesday night for a mass protest against the exclusion and harassment of women in the public sphere.

The recent rioting followed attacks against police earlier in the week. Those clashes were sparked by authorities removing a sign in a haredi neighborhood of Beit Shemesh that called for separation of the sexes. Television journalists reporting on the tensions in Beit Shemesh have also been attacked and harassed by haredim.

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