Hareidi-religious protest (archive)
Hareidi-religious protest (archive)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced Wednesday that the city would cut services to the hareidi-religious neighborhoods of Mea Shearim and Geula. Services have been cut in order to prevent municipal workers from being hurt by local rioters, city officials said.

The services that will be affected include cleaning, social services, sanitation, lighting and municipal daycare centers.

"The municipality regrets the inconvenience to those residents of these neighborhoods who are not involved in the incidents occurring there at this time,” a spokesman said. The city hopes to renew services in the near future, he added.

Earlier in the day a Border Police officer was lightly wounded by rioters in the area. Twenty rioters have been arrested, but demonstrations continue. Riots spread to the city of Beit Shemesh as well, where protestors set fire to garbage bins in a hareidi-religious neighborhood.

Hundreds of men loyal to the hareidi-religious Eida Hareidit organization held violent protests on Tuesday and Wednesday following the arrest of a woman accused of intentionally starving her child. Eida Hareidit leaders have accused staff at Hadassah Ein Karem hospital of falsely accusing the woman of abuse in order to cover up their own negligence.

Doctors at Hadassah Ein Karem hospital say they believe the woman suffers from a severe form of a mental illness known as Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.

'More Garbage – More Fuel'

Eida Hareidit reactions to Barkat's announcement ranged from derision to anger. “Besides garbage collection, we have never received anything from the city in any case. So now we'll have more to burn,” said spokesman Shmuel Popenheim.

"If the city thinks this is what will stop the protests – maybe they should cut off water as well?” he added.

MK Meir Porush of United Torah Judaism, formerly a Jerusalem mayoral candidate, accused Barkat of “collective punishment.” As mayor, Barkat is supposed to help everyone in the city, he said.

"This entire situation should have been handled differently,” he added.

Another UTJ politician, Jerusalem Council member Shlomo Rosenstein, supported Barkat. “The mayor can't be expected to put his workers in danger in order to provide services. Or should the workers come in tanks?” Rosenstein asked.

“I respect the right to protest and demonstrate, but the damage done to city property and to companies like Egged [buses] only hurts those of us who live in these neighborhoods,” he said.