After Shabbat, a brawl took place between the Ashkenazi and Sephardic haredi population, in Zayin quarter, Ashdod. The Belz and Ger Hassidic sects claim that Sephardic Yeshiva dropouts are wandering the streets on Shabbat, in a disrespectful manner.
One Sephardic resident of the neighborhood said of the Ashkenazi protesters:
“They planned on making provocations ahead of time, to rile things up and cause the police to come, so they would ultimately attack us. It is simply horrifying what is happening here. There are Ashkenazi haredi groups here who are trying to hurt us and our children in any possible way. They are violent, and they are supported by their leaders.”
“They shouted and approached young boys sitting there. One of them shoved my 11-year-old daughter and kicked her. Usually, in previous clashes, they would get swallowed into the masses, but this time we managed to photograph one of them. We went to the police and filed a complaint. We expect the police to take action against their leaders because they incite this whole phenomenon.”
An Ashkenazi resident explained the cause:
“Much to our chagrin, there are many young Sephardic boys in the neighborhood who dropped out of the yeshiva and have become rebelliousâ€¦they harass our daughters as they pass through the streets. Some of them also smoke on Shabbat in the neighborhood, and are not fit to live here. Denomination-based tension has been created because of them since they behave inappropriately. They idly sit in the streets.”
Another Ashkenazi activist said of the Sephardic youth:
“These young men sit in the streets, while some of them make provocations. This is a small minority for whom a solution must be found. I, myself, am trying to help them in any way possible. They need to go and learn a profession.”
Flyers were handed out in Ashkenazi synagogues during Shabbat, and the protests quickly escalated into physical confrontations. Several people were arrested, and brought in for questioning.
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