Israeli police were deployed in force in Jerusalem today following a night of violent protests by ultra-orthodox Jews in which 18 policemen were injured, an official said. "Hundreds of police, including frontier guards, have been deployed in Jerusalem to deal with possible new violence by the ultra-orthodox," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. He said at least 18 policemen were injured by stones thrown by protestors during overnight clashes that continued until dawn on Friday. Thirty-four protestors had been arrested.
Clashes broke out last evening when thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews protesting against the arrest of one of their number tried to close a main road in the Mea Shearim district to traffic, said another police spokesman, Shmuel Rubi. Police deployed water canons to disperse them, he added. The demonstrators had gathered from dusk in the courtyard of the Mea Shearim religious zone to protest against the actions of the police and the authorities during the dispute.
Dustbins were set alight, traffic lights broken and police and municipal vehicles had stones thrown at them in the third straight night of protests. The protestors are unhappy at what they see as the "unfair" arrest of the mother of an ultra-orthodox family suspected of having deliberately starved her three-year old son. Jerusalem police chief Aaron Franco yesterday criticised ultra-orthodox rabbis for failing to denounce the violence.
"It is time someone woke up because the violence threatens to cause victims," he said. * AFP