Jewish women scuffle at Jerusalem holy site

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-47496456

A member of the liberal Jewish religious movement "Women of the Wall" argues with Ultra Orthodox Jewish girls interrupting her prayers during an event marking the organisation's 30th anniversary at Judaism's holiest prayer site of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on 8 March 2019Image copyright
AFP

Thousands of young ultra-Orthodox Jews have clashed with a liberal Jewish women’s group at one of Judaism’s holiest sites, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem.

Dozens of members of the Women of the Wall group, who are seeking equal prayer rights, had to be escorted away by police.

Protesters, many of them women, responded to calls from ultra-Orthodox rabbis to disrupt the group’s 30th anniversary service, media reports say.

A number of people were reportedly injured in the incident.

The Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City – a relic of the Biblical Temple compound – currently has separate sections where men and women are allowed to pray.

Thousands of Ultra Orthodox Jewish girls gather at Judaism"s holiest prayer site of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on 8 March 2019Image copyright
AFP

The Jerusalem Post says 150 members of the group were met by more than 10,000 ultra-Orthodox women early on Friday morning, with insults exchanged between the two sides.

Some of the protesting girls told Haaretz newspaper they had been bussed in by their religious schools in an attempt to block the group from accessing the Western Wall.

Anat Hoffman (C), the head of the liberal Jewish religious movement "Women of the Wall", leaves Judaism's holiest prayer site of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on 8 March 2019Image copyright
AFP

“During the prayers, friction arose between the worshippers, including the Women of the Wall, including curses and various comments,” police said in a statement.

In a tweet, the Women of the Wall said two of its members had to get medical treatment after the incident. The group was later escorted to another area of the wall that allows non-traditional prayers to take place.

Israeli policewomen hold back Ultra Orthodox Jewish girls gathering at Judaism's holiest prayer site of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on 8 March 2019Image copyright
AFP

The Haaretz newspaper reported that hundreds of young ultra-Othodox men also attempted to break through police barricades to access the women’s group, but police managed to push them back. Police said they had arrested one man for attempting to assault a police officer.

Israeli border police scuffle with ultra-Orthodox Jews protesting against members of the "Women of the Wall" feminist organization gathering inside the women's section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, 8 March 2019Image copyright
EPA

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, has appealed for calm, urging both sides “to guard the Western Wall as a unified place, and not a place of division”.

Israeli border police scuffle with ultra-Orthodox Jews protesting against members of the "Women of the Wall" feminist organization gathering inside the women's section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, 8 March 2019Image copyright
EPA

For 30 years, the Women of the Wall group have been fighting rules that bar women from wearing prayer shawls, praying and reading from the Torah (Bible) collectively and aloud at the site.

A member of the liberal Jewish religious movement "Women of the Wall" dances with a Torah scroll at the egalitarian prayer section on the southern side of Judaism's holiest prayer site of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on 8 March 2019Image copyright
AFP

According to Orthodox Jewish tradition, women should not perform these religious rituals. Under pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties, the Israeli authorities in 2017 scrapped plans to create a mixed-gender prayer area at the wall.

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