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15,000 Ultra-orthodox Jews Clash with Police in Jerusalem

March 16, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

About 15,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews attacked police on the Ramot Road yesterday afternoon in a continuation of disturbances that have plagued the area on several successive weekends. Only two injuries were reported, one among the demonstrators and the other a policeman. But there were no arrests this time in contrast to last weekend when a large number of Orthodox Jews were arrested for hurling rocks and bottles at police.

Yesterday’s demonstration was led by Rabbi Yitzhak Weiss, chief rabbi of the Eda Haredit, the umbrella organization of the ultra-Orthodox in the Mea Shearim quarter. While foreign and local television crews filmed the disorders, the demonstrators launched sporadic assaults on the ranks of mounted and foot policemen, chanting “shabbes, shabbes,” The police drove them back with water cannons.

The demonstrations are to protest vehicular traffic on the Sabbath along the Ramot Road where it passes through the religious quarter. Disturbances have occurred regularly since the road was opened in 1978 linking Jerusalem with the northern suburb of Ramot. In recent weeks however, they have become confrontations between religious zealots and the police rather than with Sabbath violators.

Interior Minister Yosef Burg warned that the police and security forces have their hands full combatting terrorists and should not have to battle Sabbath demonstrators. He was referring specifically to a terrorist ambush of an Egged bus on the Ramot Road late last night. (See Story P. 4) He said he hoped that incident would lead to a “cease-fire” between the local residents and police.

Some observers here link the latest Ramot Road disturbances to the visit of the Belzer Rebbe, Yisochur Dov Rokeach, to the U.S. where he life was allegedly threatned by members of the rival Satmar Hasidic sect. The Eda Haredit and the Neturei Karta in Jerusalem are closely identified with the Satmar Hasidim. (By David Landau)

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