In Beit Shemesh, over 100 ultra-Orthodox Haredi men rioted at a construction site they believed to be a gravesite. The men allegedly set fire to trash cans (might that ruin the burial grounds?), blocked a major roadway, and attacked police officers. JTA reports that 14 men were arrested.
The Haredi Orthodox Committee for Graves of Israel has said human bones were found in the caves on the site, while the construction company claims the caves were grain and oil storage houses, according to Ynet.
The construction site, identified as the Golovencic compound, will eventually become Ramat Avraham, a new neighborhood. The riots soon spread past Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem, reports the Jerusalem Post.
In Jerusalem, several dozen haredi extremists also took to the streets to protest the construction work in Bet Shemesh, and burnt trashcans and dumpsters in the central Kikar Shabbat intersection in the Mea Shearim neighborhood as well as on Malkhei Yisrael and Yehezkel Streets.
Families have already begun to buy homes in the soon-to-be Ramat Avraham, and overseers claim its construction hasn’t been interrupted despite fervent anger.
Yanky Paley, a representative of the Agudat Eretz Hahayim organization -a competitor to the Atra Kadisha backed by Rabbi Shternboch which is engaged in overseeing the construction- told the Jerusalem Post that despite isolated incidents of protesters entering the Goloventzitz construction site, the work continued uninterrupted. Last week several men associated with the Atra Kadisha severely beat property owner Aryeh Goloventzitz.
Religious leaders are divided over whether there are actually graves at the site, Haaretz reports.
Romy Zipken is a writer and editor at Jewcy. Her Twitter feed is @RomyZipken.