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Dozen Hurt in Israel's 'Sabbath War'

September 06, 1987|From Times Wire Services

JERUSALEM — At least a dozen people were injured Saturday and 29 were arrested after police, some on horseback, lobbed tear-gas grenades into a crowd of about 500 ultra-Orthodox Jews in the worst violence yet against the screening of films on the Jewish Sabbath.

About a dozen mounted police charged into the crowd while other officers, armed with truncheons, raced in on foot, kicking and beating the devout Jews to force them back inside Mea Shearim, a religious quarter of Jerusalem.

The protesters, mostly men and boys dressed in the black silk garb of 17th-Century Eastern Europe, in turn spat at the police, calling them "Nazis" and "students of Stalin."

Police said 29 were arrested, including one secular Jew, for disturbing the peace in the latest round of the so-called "Sabbath War."

"Today we used more force than usual," police spokesman Rafi Levy said. "Our response depends on what they do. We can't give them the opportunity to do this every week."

It was the second straight Saturday that authorities used tear gas and mounted police to break up demonstrations by devout Jews who have been campaigning for the past month against the screening of movies on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. The act is seen as a desecration of the Jewish Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

The protesters gathered on the edges of the religious quarter late Saturday afternoon on the order of a sect rabbi, screaming "Shabbes, Shabbes," the Yiddish word for Sabbath, at passing cars, while young boys threw rocks and bottles at police.

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