Clashes continued Wednesday between ultra-Orthodox rioters and police forces enforcing lockdown restrictions, and graffiti equating the new police commissioner with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was spray-painted in Jerusalem.
Cops arrived at a kindergarten in the settlement of Modiin Illit that was open in violation of lockdown rules, but were faced with dozens of people who confronted them and blocked the road in an attempt to stop them from leaving, according to Hebrew media reports.
Police fined the kindergarten operator and demanded that the kids be sent home. Two people were arrested for blocking the road.
According to the Haaretz daily, dozens of educational institutions opened normally once again Wednesday, even though all schools, kindergartens and yeshivas are supposed to be shuttered to curb sky-high coronavirus infections.
The report said the schools in Beit Shemesh, Ashdod and Jerusalem, which have not closed down since the lockdown began, belong to extremist sects as well as to more mainstream Hasidic communities. Several non-Hasidic Lithuanian institutions for boys have also resumed their activities, with the approval of spiritual leader Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky.
According to Haaretz, the number of Haredi children diagnosed with COVID-19 has gone down over the past two weeks from about 500 per day to 200 per day.
Meanwhile, vandals scrawled a message against Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, who last week became Israel’s first full-time police chief in over two years.
Graffiti messages in Jerusalem’s Zichron Moshe neighborhood said: “Kobi Shabtai Hitler 2021.”
On Tuesday night, a bus driver was attacked with tear gas in Beit Shemesh by two passengers who refused to pay or wear masks, prompting the Superbus company to temporarily suspend all its operations in the city.
Police said Wednesday that one of the suspects in the incident had been arrested.
Nearly daily violent clashes with police enforcing the closure reached a peak on Sunday when protesters in the predominantly Haredi city of Bnei Brak damaged two buses, one of which was torched and its driver attacked, suffering light injuries.
The violence drew broad condemnation, including from Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, one of Israel’s two chief rabbis, who called the perpetrators “young delinquents” and “rioters” who are “desecrating God’s name,” while urging the Haredi community to renounce them.
There have been multiple reports of flagrant violations of the lockdown in Haredi communities, with schools in particular remaining open, even though the lockdown orders included shuttering the entire education system with the exclusion of special education institutes. All nonessential businesses have also been closed.