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Ultra-Orthodox wedding held in Arab town in effort to avoid detection

Eyewitness tells Israeli TV that wedding in Kfar Qasim included Arabic music, as part of efforts to blend in

An illustrative photo of an ultra-Orthodox wedding. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
An illustrative photo of an ultra-Orthodox wedding. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Police on Wednesday dispersed an ultra-Orthodox wedding held at an unexpected location — the Arab village of Kafr Qasim, east of Tel Aviv.

The reason for the choice in locale was because the bride and groom wanted to avoid detection while holding a wedding that violated coronavirus restrictions on mass gatherings, according to a Channel 12 news report Thursday.

Under the partial lockdown in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, weddings, like other outdoor events, are capped at 20 people.

An eyewitness quoted by the network said the revelers played Arabic music over the loudspeaker in an effort to blend into the surroundings.

The wedding was reportedly held at a venue owned by a Kfar Qasim resident and video of the event showed dozens of guests not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

The police announced in a statement that they broke up the wedding and fined the owner of the venue NIS 5,000 ($1,480) after accidentally coming across the gathering while in the area on an unrelated operation.

“The Israel Police calls on all business owners and the public to obey the Health Ministry guidelines in order to prevent the spread of the virus,” the statement said.

The wedding is reportedly not the first ultra-Orthodox event held in an  Arab village in an effort to avoid detection, according to Channel 12.

While Kafr Qasim was largely spared by the first wave of coronavirus, months later the city was facing 170 coronavirus infections per 10,000 residents, the second-highest rate in the country. It has since seen a marked drop in new cases.

Large weddings, traditionally held in summer, were often blamed as the source of the outbreak in Israel’s Arab community.

Wednesday night also saw a row between officers and revelers at a wedding held at a Dead Sea beach, as guests expressed outrage over cops trying to shut down the event, and the groom appeared to become ill over the ruckus.

The confrontation with police was filmed on a video that was shared on social media.

Last week, a bloody brawl erupted as police broke up a wedding held in a private home in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev.

Video shared on social media showed police scuffling with guests and family amid tables arranged for a celebration as people screamed and cried, with one man punched after being knocked to the floor. The bride’s brother was then led out of the house with blood streaming down his face.

Weddings are generally not allowed to take place at this time, and officials have refused to reopen wedding venues due to the fear of coronavirus infections at tightly packed events in which it is difficult to maintain social distancing.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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