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Police clash with stone-throwing Haredi protesters in Jerusalem, 5 arrested

Police clashed Sunday with stone-throwing ultra-Orthodox men and youths in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood who were protesting against coronavirus restrictions. Five demonstrators were arrested.

Police said “several dozen people” took part, “breaking the peace and throwing stones at police,” adding that police “repelled the demonstrators.”

The protest came despite the government easing some restrictions and just hours before a closure on Jerusalem neighborhoods expired.

In video from the scene, police in riot gear can be seen charging at a group of protesters sitting in a main intersection and blocking the road. They overpowered the protesters and led them away as onlookers screamed at police.

It also came several hours after the Justice Ministry opened an internal probe into an incident last week in which a 9-year-old girl was injured by a stun grenade thrown by police officers during clashes in the hardline ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.

The ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department will be “looking into” the incident before deciding on whether to open a full investigation, a spokesperson confirmed to The Times of Israel on Sunday.

Riots erupted Thursday night with protesters hurling objects at police forces as part of a demonstration against the ban on communal prayers and restrictions on use of mikveh ritual baths amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The protests were not coordinated with authorities and did not adhere to Health Ministry guidelines on social distancing, like a 2,000 person protest against government corruption held in Tel Aviv.

Sunday’s protest came even as the strict lockdown of many Jerusalem neighborhoods expired at midnight and were unlikely to be renewed.

A cabinet meeting was set for Monday at 10 a.m. to discuss the issue, but they were not expected to reimpose measures that prevented many Jerusalem residents, mostly in predominantly ultra-Orthodox areas, from leaving “zones” demarcated by the authorities.

And under eased guidelines Jerusalem residents will now be under the same restrictions as the rest of the country, which keep them within 100 meters of their homes, with exceptions of purchasing food, supplies and going to work.

Outdoor prayers of up to 19 people are also allowed, with two meters between worshipers, wearing masks.

People are also allowed to go 500 meters beyond their own homes or workplaces for prayer. Men were also allowed to attend ritual baths under certain conditions.

Header: Police arrest ultra-Orthodox Jewish demonstrators in the Mea Shearim neighborhood, following a protest against the coronavirus restrictions April 19, 2020. (Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)