Israeli police clash with ultra-Orthodox protesters

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 16, 2011 1:33 PM
Israeli police clash with ultra-Orthodox protesters

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police on horseback Saturday clashed with hundreds of ultra-Orthodox protesters hurling stones and garbage bins as part of a campaign to stop a public parking lot from opening on the Jewish sabbath.

Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for national police, said police deployed at a downtown intersection to prevent protesters from carrying out plans to block a main road.

"There are about 800 there, and objects are being thrown at police. Mounted police are dispersing them," Rosenfeld said. Reuters television footage showed a protester denouncing one officer as a "stinking Nazi."

There were no immediate reports of any injuries or arrests in the protest that disrupted a section of predominantly Jewish populated western Jerusalem.

The demonstration pointed up mounting tensions between a politically influential religious minority and Israel's secular Jewish majority population who spar on a regular basis over the degree to which public policy should be shaped by religion.

Six Israeli policemen were injured earlier this week in a separate confrontation with protesters in an ultra-Orthodox section of Jerusalem in a raid on alleged tax evaders.

Israeli media reports said Saturday's protest marked the anniversary of the opening of a public parking lot over the objections of religious politicians and was also called to demand a main road running by their neighborhood be shut on the sabbath.

Jewish law bans travel on the sabbath along with other forms of routine activity regarded as work but most Israelis do not abide by that restriction.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by David Cowell)