Riot in Geula
Riot in Geula Israel news photo: Flash 90

Riots continued for a second day on Thursday in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Mea Shearim and Geula. Several people were injured, most of them municipal workers. One worker required hospital treatment.

The Electric Company has announced that its workers will not be sent to the area until the situation is under control.

The Jerusalem municipality cut services to the area on Wednesday due to fears that its workers would be targeted in the violent protests. On Thursday those fears were realized as demonstrators smashed windows at one local social services office and pelted a second with stones.

No injuries were reported, but property damage was caused in the assault.

Welfare Minister Itzchak Herzog denounced the incident, and called on leaders in the hareidi-religious community to restrain protestors. “Whoever did this hurt their own community first and foremost,” he said.

Most of the damage done in the riots has been done to local property, including the two welfare offices and several dozen garbage bins, most of which were set on fire or used to block roads. In addition, at least two vehicles belonging to the municipality were damaged.

Demonstrators have blocked roads and set fire to garbage on dozens of occasions. More than two dozen protestors have been arrested.

Many residents of Geula and Mea Shearim expressed anger over the riots on Thursday. Some said they feared to step into the streets, while others complained that garbage fires had created heavy clouds of foul-smelling smoke that have caused breathing difficulties in the area.

Police Charge Obstruction of Justice

The latest round of Jerusalem riots began over the case of a young hareidi-religious mother who is suspected of harming her young son due to a psychological condition. The woman was arrested earlier this week.

Police said Thursday that the woman would remain under arrest for the time being, despite calls to release her to house arrest. Investigators expressed concern that if the woman were to be released from jail, she could be smuggled out of the country.

Police officials charged that the Mea Shearim riots were part of a larger attempt, led by a handful of individuals, to obstruct justice in the case. A group of members of the Toldot Aharon sect to which the woman and her family belong have instigated the riots and threatened doctors at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, where the allegations first came to light, police said.

Doctors say the woman's young son was severely underweight due to her actions. The child remains at the hospital, under guard, and doctors say he is now gaining weight and his condition is improving.

However, members of Toldot Aharon and the hareidi-religious Eida Hareidit dispute the doctors' version of events, and say the mother has been falsely charged. Her child suffers from real, lifelong health problems, they say, and his poor condition is a result of his illness, which was exacerbated by the treatment he received at Hadassah Ein Karem following a misdiagnosis.