Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid visited the southern city of Arad Thursday, where the Yesh Atid-backed mayor has been facing off with members of the Gur hassidic sect.
Over the past few years, tensions have increased between Arad's secular residents and the growing community of Gur hassidim, culminating in a violent clash that erupted this past Saturday night.
Lapid met with Arad Mayor Nissan Ben Hamu and the local police chief who oversaw the response to Saturday night's clash, receiving a detailed breakdown of events. Lapid expressed his support for Ben Hamu, a member of his Yesh Atid Party, and attacked Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ), a member of Gur.
"We came to Arad to support the mayor, Nissan Ben Hamu, and Arad residents who suffer violence and constant harassment from a small extremist group of Gur Hasiddic Jews supported by Minister Litzman," Lapid said. "It is absurd that a cabinet minister would appear in a violent and illegal demonstration.
"Let's not get confused. This is not an argument over religious matters, but about money, budgets, and buildings, and with people who want more than they deserve," he continued.
"They deserve to get what every other resident deserves and not more than that, because there are limited resources in the city and they need to be distributed equally."
Lapid dismissed Gur's claims that they are suffering anti-religious bias, telling Ben Hamu that "if someone thinks that this is a war against religion, then let them go to the Chabad hassidic sect; they have suffered just as much. Let them go to the national-religious public, they have also suffered from harassment."
Gur residents have been at loggerheads with the city's secular and religious residents for years. Many residents accuse Gur of attempting to take over the city and alter its character.
The Gur community in Arad has grown exponentially in the past decade due to the low cost of housing. They have also influenced the city's infrastructure, and even use the municipal community center to house their girls' preschool.