US News Israel: Purim feast degenerates in Jerusalem against a backdrop of Covid

03:50  01 march  2021
03:50  01 march  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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Des policiers interpellent un adolescent dans le quartier ultra-orthodoxe de Mea Sharim, à Jérusalem, le 28 février 2021. © REUTERS - RONEN ZVULUN Police officers arrest a teenager in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Sharim, in Jerusalem, on February 28, 2021.

Violent clashes have occurred opposed this Sunday, February 28 in Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli police officers during the religious holiday of Purim, reviving tensions around respect for health measures to fight against the coronavirus.

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews threw stones and objects at law enforcement officers who had come to remove police dolls suspended from electric wires in the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem. “Nazis,” they shouted at them, among other insults. One of the dolls was inscribed with the name of the Prefect of Police Yaakov Shabtai, said the police, who said they had arrested a suspect.

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A little later in the evening, a minibus stuck in a traffic jam and taken to task by passers-by charged into the crowd, knocking down a man who succumbed to his injuries. Several Palestinians who were there were attacked. The head of government Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers gathered for a press conference in this neighborhood had to be exfiltrated under the protection of the security services, relates our correspondent in Jerusalem, Michel Paul .

The festival of Purim marks, according to Jewish tradition, the victory of the Jews against a vizier of the Persian Empire, Haman, in the fifth century BC. It is traditionally the occasion for carnival parades, costume parties and large popular gatherings which, mixed with alcohol, often end up degenerating.

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Fearing an increase in contamination, Israel, which has begun the gradual exit from its third lockdown, has established a nighttime curfew during the party, from Thursday to Sunday. And, on Sunday, the police tried to prevent the Israelis from going to Jerusalem to party, by controlling access to the city.

Last year, authorities banned gatherings on the holiday when the pandemic was in its infancy. But the restrictions were not followed, causing a wave of contaminations in the following days.

The clashes of this Sunday are part of a context of regular clashes for several weeks between the police and ultra-Orthodox Jews opposed to the containment measures.

They are also intervening at a time when Israel is carrying out an intense vaccination campaign which has provided a first dose of vaccine to more than 4.65 million inhabitants, or more than half of its population.

Read also: Covid-19: Israel brings into force a vaccine passport

(And with AFP)

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