December 7, 2023

Police were called after reports that “dozens” of haredi men had broken into an indoor playground in the northern Israel city of Harish.

Two haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish men were arrested by Israel Police in Harish on Saturday after allegedly harassing and assaulting a woman at an indoor playground.

Police requested an extension on the detention of Dov Reis, 27, however, the extension was rejected by the district court in Haifa on Sunday night. Police will have to bring him before a judge on Monday or release him. The second suspect, Yaakov David Landa, 28, was released on a three-day house arrest.

The injured woman, Tzipi Brayer-Sharabi, broke her elbow as a result of the attack and had to be evacuated to the hospital with a compound fracture as a result.

Dozens of Haredi men broke into the indoor playground which is located on the underground floor of a commercial center in the city. As recounted by Brayer-Sharabi: “Dozens just broke through the security doors and just began shouting.”

The men were chanting “shabbos (Shabbat)” at the guests. The confrontation quickly turned physical and police were called. According to Brayer-Sharabi, only a single police car arrived with two officers. Police attempted to separate the groups, however, they were too few to control the crowd. This led to the owner, Itai Rosenblit, and several others including Brayer-Sharabi attempting to block the doorway and prevent passage.

Rosenbilt says he had been threatened before, receiving a call on Torah study night saying “If you don’t understand well, then you’ll understand not well.” also said, “The place won’t exist, full stop.” Rosenblit is hopeful saying that 95% of the residents support him and that it is only a small group who “don’t want seculars in Harish”.

Rosenblit wanted to emphasize that most people, religious and haredi, in Harish are “nice and gentle”. He also wanted to emphasize that he has religious customers who come on weekdays and on Saturdays, with pre-bought tickets.

The incident has frightened Rosenbilt, he was quoted by Walla as saying “I was scared. They killed us.” and “This is a group of extremists. They could have easily killed someone, yesterday. There was a rabbi with them and they were simply in crazy ecstasy. I was in the Territories, I was in Gaza, but I did not see this hatred that I saw in [their] eyes yesterday anywhere. If God forbid it ended with someone dying, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.”

Brayer-Sharabi laid much of the blame at the feet of the authorities saying “If the problems had been dealt with when they started, it would not have escalated.” She says that struggles in the community have been ongoing for a year and that previous incidents were not dealt with properly. She highlights that she herself had been attacked in the past and that it was the same people who attacked her at the playground.

Brayer-Sharabi continued saying “My feeling is that the authorities are not treating it properly and that there is a policy of ‘containment’.” She believes the police knew that the men were planning on attacking the playground and she has no expectations that the mayor will deal with the issue, saying “He doesn’t really deal with these issues other than issuing condemnations.”

Yaya Fink, the Labor candidate for Knesset who raised 100,000s shekels to help the victims of the Huwara pogrom, called on Israelis to buy tickets to the playground to show support. Within an hour more than NIS 10,000 worth of purchases.

Police released a statement, stating that “upon receiving the report about the case, police officers quickly arrived at the scene and arrested two suspects in the act. We will continue to investigate the case thoroughly in order to reach the truth.”

The Harish municipality also released a statement saying: “What happened yesterday is an ugly and shameful incident. The people who did it do not represent the ultra-orthodox, and certainly not Judaism, and no one but themselves. The mayor spoke last night with the chief of the Ein Iron police, and stated that we will not sit quietly and we will not pass on This is on the agenda. The mayor made it clear that communities that resort to violence or support violence will be held responsible.”

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