Medics attacked en route to virus test in Jerusalem Haredi neighborhood; 1 hurt

Magen David Adom volunteer lightly hurt in incident in Mea Shearim, municipal vehicle damaged

The damaged rear window of a Jerusalem municipality vehicle that had stones thrown at it, April 4, 2020 (Magen David Adom)
The damaged rear window of a Jerusalem municipality vehicle that had stones thrown at it, April 4, 2020 (Magen David Adom)

A vehicle carrying medics and municipal inspectors was pelted with rocks and other objects Saturday in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood while traveling to conduct a coronavirus test.

A volunteer paramedic received a head injury in the attack and required hospitalization, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

The rear window of the Jerusalem municipality vehicle, which was being used by Magen David Adom to collect a sample from a man suspected of having the virus, was smashed by the stones and part of the windshield was shattered.

Channel 12 news reported an iron bar was also used in the attack.

“It’s a tough feeling that you’re coming to carry out a [coronavirus] test for a person that needs help and on the way you’re attacked,” Nissim Hatib, the injured medic, was quoted saying in the statement.

According to Channel 12 news, the attack was carried out by members of the so-called Jerusalem Faction, a hardline group that has been linked to numerous violations of emergency ordinances meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

There were no reports of arrests.

Earlier Saturday, police arrested 10 people in Mea Shearim accused of assaulting officers and interfering with their efforts to enforce restrictions.

The neighborhood is home to numerous extremist ultra-Orthodox groups and has been the scene of multiple clashes between residents and police enforcing Health Ministry directives against the virus. A Magen David Adom team was also attacked with rocks on Monday while performing a coronavirus test in Mea Shearim.

Also Saturday, police said they broke up an illegal prayer service in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modiin Illit, fining 20 worshipers.

In Bnei Brak, a predominantly ultra-Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv that has been declared a restricted zone due to the high prevalence of coronavirus in the population, around 50 members of the Jerusalem Faction gathered to pray, Channel 12 reported. Police were called to the scene.

On Thursday, the cabinet approved declaring Bnei Brak a restricted zone, effectively locking down the area. The order restricted movement into and out of the city, with entrance limited to residents, police, rescue services, those bringing essential supplies and journalists.

Israeli police officers check vehicles at a checkpoint in the predominantly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, on April 3, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Bnei Brak, with a population of nearly 200,000, has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in Israel after Jerusalem, despite having close to five times less people living there.

On Saturday, a senior Health Ministry official called for additional areas in Israel with a high number of coronavirus cases to be declared restricted zones, including a number of areas with large ultra-Orthodox populations such as Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Modiin Illit.

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