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Violent clashes in Bnei Brak as police fail to enforce nightly curfew

Footage from the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak on Sunday showed residents clashing with police officers enforcing a nightly curfew, throwing garbage bags at them and repeatedly calling them “Nazis.”

The cops also appeared to employ violence at times, and at one point threw a garbage bag back at the Haredi protesters.

The ultra-Orthodox public is furious at the government for what many in the community perceive as discrimination against them in the effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The nightly curfew was imposed last week in some 40 “high-infection areas” — predominantly Haredi and Arab — but has gone largely unenforced, ahead of a nationwide lockdown beginning on Friday and lasting for three weeks.

One clip circulating on social media showed local men attacking a police vehicle, after they set up an improvised roadblock in an attempt to prevent it from entering their neighborhood.

Police did not react to various objects hurled at their car — including garbage bags and eggs — and crossed the roadblock while the men chased them.

Additional footage showed dozens of ultra-Orthodox men gathered around several officers, calling them “Nazis” and urging them to leave and “go back to Germany.”

They also protested alleged police violence that preceded that scene. The footage showed cops shoving some of the men and at one point, shoving a garbage bag back at them.

Reports said the officers eventually left, without enforcing the curfew rules.

The Israel Police said the incident began when residents gathered around a cop who tried to disperse a crowd. The officer was forced to call for backup.

Police said the incident in which the officer threw the garbage bag back at the men would be probed, the Haaretz daily reported.

The rules of the night curfew stipulate that, during curfew hours, residents keep within 500 meters of their homes and non-essential businesses remain closed. Schools are closed altogether, except for special needs programs.

The lockdown approved by the government on Sunday night — to begin Friday and last at least three weeks — came as the country saw “virus infection rates spiral in the past few weeks, topping 4,000 new daily cases in recent days”.

The new rules will keep all Israelis within 500 meters of their homes, shutter schools, malls and hotels, curb gatherings, and ban in-person dining at restaurants.

The lockdown is similarly opposed by many in the ultra-Orthodox community. Yaakov Litzman, the leader of the United Torah Judaism party, resigned Sunday as housing minister over the decision.

According to Health Ministry figures published Monday morning, there are 40,561 active virus patients in the country. There are 1,111 being treated in hospitals, with 529 in serious condition and 135 on ventilators. Of the remaining patients, 214 have moderate symptoms and the rest have light or no symptoms at all.

Since the beginning of the pandemic 156,823 people have been diagnosed in Israel with the coronavirus and 115,128 have recovered from COVID-19, the disease it causes. The death toll stands at 1,126.

Source: TOI