An estimated 1,000 hareidi-religious Jews protested outside the Jerusalem branch of Intel Corporation on Sunday night against the weekly Sabbath desecration there. A total of five police officers were lightly injured, and seven demonstrators were arrested.
After the protest at the Har Hotzvim industrial complex, several dozen protestors attempted to block Golda Meir Blvd., a major artery leading to northern Jerusalem, but were dispersed by police.
The protest centers around a production line at Intel’s Jerusalem plant that works around the clock. Intel refused to divulge the nature of the work, whether it can or cannot be closed, or how many workers are involved. Its spokesman told Israel National News that the company is in contact with representatives of the hareidi sector in order to reach an understanding, that efforts are being made to reduce Sabbath desecration, and that no Sabbath-observer is forced to work on the Sabbath.
Asked why they are protesting, one of the demonstrators explained simply, “We cannot bear to see the Sabbath being desecrated in the holy city of Jerusalem. We’re not asking them to close down or to move out, but just to respect the holy day in the holy city.”
In a departure from long-established Sabbath-protests tradition, the protest was held on Sunday night and not on the Sabbath.
Intel employs some 6,500 workers in six plants in Israel: four research centers in Haifa, Yakum (north of Herzliya), Petach Tikva, and Jerusalem, and two manufacturing plants, in Jerusalem and Kiryat Gat. About 10 percent of the workers are in the two Jerusalem offices, including about 150 at the manufacturing plant.