By Tony Winterburn • 25 January 2021 • 10:51
Orthodox Jews Clash With Israeli Police As Religious Schools Open In Violation Of Lockdown. image: Twitter Feed
Ultra Orthodox Jews Clash With Israeli Police As Religious Schools Open In Violation Of Lockdown.
Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators have clashed with Israeli police in two major cities, as authorities faced new difficulties in enforcing coronavirus restrictions in the country’s religious communities.
The clashes on Sunday occurred in Jerusalem and Ashdod as police attempted to close religious schools that had opened in violation of lockdown orders. Throughout the pandemic, many major ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects have flouted safety regulations, continuing to open schools, pray in synagogues and hold mass weddings and funerals.
This has contributed to a disproportionate infection rate, with the ultra-Orthodox community accounting for more than one-third of Israel’s coronavirus cases, despite making up just over 10 per cent of the population.
In Jerusalem, police fired tear gas and putrid-smelling water to disperse a crowd of hundreds of ultra-Orthodox residents outside a reopened school. Demonstrators cried “get out of here, Nazis” at officers who were filmed arresting participants. In the coastal city of Ashdod, police scuffled with dozens of protesters outside an ultra-Orthodox school.
Five police officers were wounded in the disputes, and at least four people were arrested, police said.
The Health Ministry of Israel had recently announced that 16 to 18-year-olds, with parental permission, will be entitled to receive Pfizer vaccinations so that they can sit their important school exams. Their results will determine university places, as well as affecting their military service which is compulsory for most Israeli youths.
A health ministry spokesperson said that the initiative is designed “to enable their return to school and the orderly holding of exams”. The ambitious plan comes as Israel enjoys the rank of being the world’s most vaccinated country.
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