War over Girl’s School Erupts in Beit Shemesh

A war has broken out between the National-Religious and Haredi populations of the Sheinfeld neighborhood in Beit Shemesh and came to blows yesterday.

The school building in question, Orot LeBanot, is located on the border of the Sheinfeld and Kiryat Haredit neighborhoods of Beit Shemesh.  The school was promised to the National-religious population of the city by the national government and lays adjacent to the Orot Neriya/Orot LeBanim boy’s school.  However, Beit Shemesh mayor Moshe Abutbul promised the school building to the Haredi public behind closed doors.

A few days before the school year began, the Haredi community attempted to drive away the National-Religious community by occupying the school.  However, the police removed those individuals from the premises and the school year opened under heavy police protection.

On Monday, a confrontation took place at the end of the school day, with Haredi protestors hurling insults and chasing the girls away.  Among the insults hurled at the 6 to 12 year old girls were “Shiksa” (non-Jewish girl) and “Prutza” (prostitute). The religious-Zionist community demanded police protection and responded by posting the addresses and photos of the perpetrators on public announcement boards, accusing them of being pedophiles.  In addition, many parents brought their dogs when dropping their daughters off at school, which kept the Haredi aggressors at bay as they have a deep-seated fear of dogs.

Yesterday, the tensions escalated when the Haredi protestors - led by a Moshe Friedman - repeated their actions, this time blocking the entire sidewalk.  This time, the national Religious community responded by exiting their cars to join those who were blocked by the Haredim and a brawl erupted.  The police took 45 minutes to break-up the fight, which was also caused by Haredi protestors throwing rocks into the boy’s school, injuring a child.

According to Abutbul, the building was only promised to the Haredi public because the residents live like “Arab Villages” and the police are unable to maintain order and claims the municipality can arbitrate a compromise.  However, the national Religious community says they will protect their own at all costs since the police refuse to get involved and are intimidated by the group of 50 violent protestors.