Lapid vows to take 'heavy hand' against haredi protesters

Ex-Finance Minister Yair Lapid says if elected PM, he will use a 'heavy hand' against haredi protesters.

David Rosenberg ,

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Miri Tzahi/TPS

Yesh Atid party chairman and former Finance Minister Yair Lapid vowed to use a “heavy hand” in dealing with haredi protesters if he is elected Prime Minister, following an attack on a secular Israeli woman during a demonstration in Bnei Brak Friday evening.

Demonstrators gathered in the predominantly haredi city of Bnei Brak Friday evening to protest the Tel Aviv District Court’s decision to cancel a stop-work order issued on Thursday night which would have blocked infrastructure work for a light rail station during the Sabbath. The station is situated between Bnei Brak and Petah Tikva.

Tens of thousands of haredim protested the ruling Friday evening, which haredi leaders claimed violated the decades-old “status quo” arrangement on the relationship between religion and state, since the work was conducted in the largely religious, Sabbath-observant city.

During the rally, a secular woman, 27-year-old Shir Pepperberg, found herself surrounded by demonstrators while driving down Highway 4 through Bnei Brak.

A group of protesters surrounding Pepperberg’s car attacked the vehicle, until a local haredi couple came to Pepperberg’s aid. Pepperberg stayed with the couple in their home for several hours until the protesters left the area.

Following the incident, Yair Lapid said he would deal with haredi protesters “with a heavy hand” if elected Prime Minister.

“If I establish the next government, I will deal with any violent protesters like the one in Bnei Brak with a very heavy hand. Without hesitation,” Lapid tweeted.

Lapid, a long-time critic of open-ended army deferments for yeshiva students, has trailed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu by double digits in recent polls, after leading the Likud in a handful of surveys last December.