Minor scuffles broke out Friday in Beit Shemesh between the police and ultra-Orthodox demonstrators as authorities cleaned up graffiti against the Jerusalem-area city’s mayor.
Video footage showed a group of ultra-Orthodox men approaching an official cleaning the graffiti, while police officers tried to stop them. In a second video, shoving could be seen as the police tried to keep the demonstrators away.
The graffiti in Hebrew appeared to read “Aliza Bloch = Hitler.”
According to the Kan public broadcaster, the graffiti seemed to be in protest of the demolishing of an illegally built synagogue in the city earlier in the week.
ובעקבות הגרפיטי נגד עליזה בלוך שכתוב עליו "עליזה בלוך היטלר" עימותים בין המשטרה הפקחים לבין הקיצוניים pic.twitter.com/9I8kP2w4DS
— Yossi Eli (@Yossi_eli) July 5, 2019
A photo of other graffiti purportedly from the city labeled Bloch a “terrorist” over the demolition.
“To call Aliza Bloch, the mayor of Beit Shemesh, a terrorist is grave incitement and we can’t be silent,” centrist Blue and White MK Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter.
Lapid called on police to probe the graffiti and arrest whoever was behind it. “Terrorists are people who murder not a mayor in Israel,” he said.
Bloch, a religious Zionist woman, was elected Beit Shemesh’s first female mayor last year in a runoff against ultra-Orthodox incumbent Moshe Abutbol.
Beit Shemesh in recent years has seen conflict between ultra-Orthodox, non-ultra-Orthodox and secular residents over restrictions on women’s dress and gender-segregated seating on public buses. In a widely publicized incident in 2011, an 8-year-old Orthodox girl was spat on by ultra-Orthodox men on her way to school for her perceived immodest dress.
JTA contributed to this report.
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