JERUSALEM (Jul. 14)
The Jerusalem police have set up a special task force to cope with growing violence on the part of ultra-Orthodox Jews opposed to archaeological diggings in the City of David, just outside the Old City walls.
The task force was created on orders from Yehoshua Caspi, commander of police in the southern district who named Jerusalem police chief Rahamin Komfort to head it. Caspi announced today that Komfort has been relieved of all other duties so that he can give his full time and attention to disorders in the religious neighborhoods of the city, notably the Mea Shearim quarter.
The special unit was established after a fire severely damaged the office of archaeologist Meir Ben Dov in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. Police said it was a clear case of arson and suspect that religious zealots were responsible Eight yeshiva students were arrested last night in Mea Shearim after an evening of clashes between religious demonstrators and police.
Caspi said on a radio interview today that the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem was growing more militant every year and acted as if any means were permissable to achieve their ends. He said the new task force will be equipped with various “technical means” to disperse unlawful demonstrators, including tear gas guns.
Caspi warned that if the Mea Shearim residents continue to violate the law and throw rocks, the police will use “a very strong hand” to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to trial. He was referring to the repeated incidents of rock throwing by religious zealots at motorists who drive in or near their neighborhoods on the Sabbath.
SEEKS DEPORTATION OF SECT LEADER
Meanwhile, Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem has called on the government to deport Rabbi Moshe Hirsh, a U.S. citizen who is a leader of the Neturei Karta sect in Jerusalem. He said that Hirsh, known as the “foreign minister” of the sect, was a key instigator of riots in Jerusalem Monday night against the archaeological diggings.
Kollek noted that while Hirsh lives here, he refuses to take Israeli citizenship. The Neturei Karta does not recognize what it calls the “Zionist state” because according to their beliefs there can be no Jewish state before the advent of the Messiah.
Hirsh appeared on a television interview to argue that “even in Russia” Jewish graveyards are respected. His group and other ultra-Orthodox Jews oppose archaeological excavations in the City of David area on grounds that ancient Jewish cemeteries have been violated.
The Education Ministry licensed the digs after consultation with the Chief Rabbinate. One small area that might contain the remains of a cemetery was fenced off. According to the Ministry, the protestors were demanding only that the wooden fence be replaced by one of brick.