Dozens of Haredi extremists rioted outside a school in Beit Shemesh while the female mayor of the town southwest of Jerusalem was touring the building on Tuesday night.
The rioters hurled objects at the building, started a fire and vandalized Mayor Aliza Bloch’s empty vehicle — smashing windows and slashing its tires — while effectively holding her hostage inside the building for nearly two hours.
Police were dispatched to the scene in order to safely extract Bloch from the premises.
An officer was injured in the head and required medical attention after rioters threw rocks at police.
Bloch had been touring the new building, which will serve as a school for members of Beit Shemesh’s Viznitz Hasidic sect.
The incident came days after Haredi extremists vandalized a campaign placard with Bloch’s face on it — conduct that female politicians have long endured in ultra-Orthodox towns and neighborhoods.
עשרות חרדים הבעירו פחים ותקפו את רכבה של עליזה בלוך, ראש עיריית בית שמש, לאחר שהגיעה לאירוע חנוכת תלמוד תורה בעיר. שמשות רכבה נופצו והגלגלים נוקבו. לאחר כשעה, המשטרה חילצה את ראש העיר בכוחות מתוגברים, וללא נפגעים@HGoldich pic.twitter.com/tHw7HmFQSU
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 29, 2023
President Isaac Herzog phoned Bloch on Wednesday morning to express his support.
“In the conversation, the president backed the mayor, condemned the violence against her and stressed that it was unacceptable and intolerable,” a statement on behalf of Herzog read.
Tuesday’s riot was also condemned by Shas Interior Minister Moshe Arbel.
The minister called on law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.
No arrests were made.
Bloch became Beit Shemesh’s first female mayor in 2018 and is running for reelection in the increasingly Haredi town in October.
The riot came amid rising concerns that polices by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government are weakening the rights of women, and emboldening extremists.