Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
Police officers confront Haredi youths in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, October 4, 2020.

Jerusalem police reached a secret understanding with several Zealous Haredi communities in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, according to which they will be able to hold events attended by thousands of people every evening during the Sukkot holiday, provided that they refrain from posting videos of those celebrations, Haaretz reported Tuesday morning, based on two Haredi sources who spoke with reporter Aharon Rabinowitz (המשטרה סיכמה בחשאי עם חסידויות: תורשו לקיים אירועים המוניים – ללא תיעוד).

Rabinowitz reports that a few days before the eve of Sukkot, the commander of the Lev HaBira police station, Deputy Chief Shimi Marciano, spoke with representatives of the various communities in the neighborhood – Toldot Aharon, Toldot Avraham Yitzchak, Dushinski, and Slonim – and according to the two Haredi sources he reached an understanding with them.


Watch: Deputy Chief Shimi Marciano chasing after a Haredi kid and slams him to the pavement, October 4, 2020:

Indeed, since the beginning of the holiday last Shabbat, huge events have been held every evening in those same Chasidic sects, while large police forces stand only a few meters away and don’t go in.

According to the Haredi sources, it was agreed that the Chasidim would continue with the holiday as usual, including the Simchat Beit Hashoeva events every evening with the participation of thousands, but they would make sure that no documentation of the events is published.

The same sources suggested that Marciano pledged for his part that the police would turn a blind eye to the events. And the proof is in the missing pudding: to date, no documentation of those events has been published.

The extremist Haredi enclaves received the reported understandings with satisfaction and have been careful not to bring strangers into those mass events. One Chassidut even issued official invitations that only those who carried them were allowed to enter (the Gur Chassidism acted similarly in their Yom Kippur prayers, when only those who had pre-issued tickets were allowed to enter the synagogue – DI).

“Guards were placed at the entrances to check who was walking in at every Chassidut,” said one of the sources. “As soon as they see someone who is not related, they immediately throw him out. And, of course, there’s a total ban on documenting what’s happening inside.”

The source added that the events take place as usual and that on Monday many thousands participated in the Simchat Beit Hashoeva event of the Toldot Aharon Chassidut; more than a thousand people were at an event of the Avraham Yitzchak Chassidut. “There’s an orchestra and dances like every year,” the source said.

However, despite the alleged agreement, on Sunday the Jerusalem police initiated an extensive enforcement operation in the Mea Shearim neighborhood and its environs (Hard to Watch: Violent Israeli Police Attack Adults and Children in Haredi Neighborhoods). According to eyewitnesses and videos of the operation in the media and on social networks, the police waited for long minutes for a crowd to form around them, at which point large forces entered the enclaves, clashed for hours with local youths, and arrested 18 – some of them innocent passers-by.

In two recorded incidents, police officers were seen arresting two people who did not take part in the clashes but only documented them. Apparently, the documentation is a more serious crime in the eyes of the police than the actual violations of the corona regulations.

According to the same videos, several policemen attacked each targeted suspect, put him in the patrol car and it immediately drove away.

The police responded: “These are false claims and we reject them outright. As part of the police preparations for the holiday and the information efforts, police representatives met with various public representatives to create cooperation and explain the significance of violating the regulations and enforcement by their side. Contrary to what is alleged, the police carried out enforcement activities in the area wherever and whenever they were required.”

Jerusalem is still seeing clashes between Haredim and police, regardless of what’s going on inside the forbidden zones (forbidden to police and all other outsiders): on the night between Monday and Tuesday, riots took place in the area of ​​Shivtei Yisrael Street in Jerusalem. Police forces working to restore order arrested 5 suspects for stone-throwing and assaulting police officers and they were taken in for questioning.


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