Extremist Ultra-Orthodox Jews have been rioting for three days after social services took a woman's child away from her for alleged starvation.
Known as the Haredi community, the majority of Israel's extremist Ultra Orthodox Jews live in the Mea Shearim neighbourhood. It was here that a three-year-old, weighing seven kilos, was removed from his mother on Tuesday after social services were warned that she was starving him. The mother was detained.
Extremists from the community took to the streets in defence of the mother, burning litter bins, vandalising state property, and attacking civil servants, from policeman to cleaners. They initially claimed that the boy was not sick, and then insisted that he was ill because he suffered from cancer. The hospital he is being treated in, however, deny the claims, saying that his ill-health is a result of malnutrition, and that his mother has a psychiatric disorder called Munchausen-by-proxy - which entails abusing someone in order to generate sympathy.
On Friday (July 17) the mother was bailed, following concerns that protestors would become even more dangerous if she remained in custody during the Shabbat, which begins at sundown on Fridays in the Jewish calendar. She is to be tried later.
“Any attempt to intervene in their affairs, they see as an attack on their society”
Lisa Goldman is a blogger and journalist in Tel Aviv.The people behind these riots are extreme Ultra-Orthodox Jews, so they're really a very small minority. These people live in another world. Their customs are based on 18th century Eastern Europe. They speak Yiddish, not Hebrew. They live in Jerusalem for religious reasons but they don't believe in Israel - it's a secular state. They don't accept the law. Any attempt from the civil police to intervene in their affairs - like this one - they see as an attack on their society.
Communication between the Ultra-Orthodox and the police/ rest of the community is not good. We simply do not interact with them. They live in an isolated area. They don't go to secular schools or universities, they don't work. They refuse to serve in the army. We don't even speak the same language. We're like foreigners to them.
They suffer a high level of poverty. It's very normal to have 12 - 15 children per family and the husband is a full time scholar, studying in the Yeshiva [Talmudic educational institute] from 8am until 6pm. The wife has a baby per year after they're married at 18 and works full time at the Yeshiva doing administrative work. They live off state funding at what works out at around €800 per month. They have a strong faith that ‘God will provide'. It's a lifestyle that the vast majority of Israeli people just cannot understand.
It will die down - it always does. The mayor will threaten not to collect their rubbish or something, and they'll forget about it. The Ultra-Orthodox go through a period of rioting every few months. Something always sets them off - a gay event, a cinema opening on Fridays..."
Amateur images of the riots