A police officer and a Haaretz photographer were wounded in a confrontation between ultra-Orthodox protesters and police forces in the capital, as demonstrations against the city's upcoming gay pride parade raged for the third consecutive day.
Some 1,000 ultra-Orthodox protesters took part in Thursday's demonstration against the parade, which is scheduled for next Friday. At the end of the demonstration, the participants marched Jerusalem's Bar-Ilan Street in an attempt to block traffic. The police deployed officers on horseback to prevent the roads from being blocked.
The crowd threw stones and firecrackers at police officers, who attempted to disperse them by firing a water cannon. At least five protesters were arrested.
Prior to the clashes, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, head of the ultra-Orthodox legal authority, addressed opponents of the parade.
Wearing a sackcloth to signify mourning, Sternbuch addressed the assembled crowd of several hundred in Yiddish, telling them "complete devotion" should be given to preventing the parade from taking place.
"By fighting with all our strength, we will be rewarded with the coming of the messiah," he said. (Ha'Aretz)
Wow. Total lack of perspective anybody? Sackcloth? "Fighting with all our strength?" "Rewarded with the coming of the messiah?" This must be the most important event in the history of Judaism! It's a modern-day Megillat Esther.
Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars links to another article describing the same events. My favorite part:
Twenty-five protestors were arrested but leaders of the sect vowed that after a break for the Jewish Sabbath they will continue to demonstrate.
They're so pious they refrain from hurling stones and firecrackers at their fellow Jews on the holy Sabbath.
See also J-blogger Robbie's Why I'll Be Marching in the Jerusalem Pride Parade.