Video shows passerby blasted by water cannon at Jerusalem protest
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Video shows passerby blasted by water cannon at Jerusalem protest

Woman trying to cross street is caught in melee as police shoot water and skunk spray at extremist ultra-Orthodox youths

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

An unfortunate woman was literally washed down the street in Jerusalem on Sunday by a powerful jet of water from a police anti-riot water gun.

Video footage shared around the world shows the woman, who was wearing a Muslim head-covering, trying to cross the street near the capital’s central bus station as ultra-Orthodox Jews protest the jailing of young seminary students for draft-dodging.

Almost as soon as she steps into the street, a jet of water hits her on the head, blasting her several meters into the road and dislodging her sweater.

The operator of the water cannon, who cannot be seen, continues to shoot water at a small group of Haredi demonstrators, many of whom sit down in the road while they are being drenched. Police were also spraying the protesters with foul-smelling skunk spray.

The woman’s identity was not known.

The police were trying to impose control on hundreds of ultra-Orthodox youths from a fringe religious group whose demonstration caused traffic mayhem, shut down the capital’s light rail service and blocked the main entrance to the capital for three hours.

The youths only left the area when the head of the so-called “Jerusalem Faction,” Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, called on them to return to their yeshivas.

Police said they had detained 35 “extremists” who refused to clear the road.

At midnight, the stench of the skunk water still hung in the air around the area.

The protests were sparked after the Jaffa Military Court on Sunday sentenced 11 ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers to jail sentences ranging from 40 to 90 days.

At issue is a decades-old debate as to whether young ultra-Orthodox men studying in yeshivas, or seminaries, should be called up for compulsory military service, like the rest of Israel’s Jewish population. After reaching the age of 18, men must serve for 32 months and women for 24.

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