Israel – Some 900 people on Saturday participated in a conference of the Jehovah’s Witnesses denomination in the central city of Holon. The event was held under tight security at a municipal basketball hall in the Kiryat Sharet neighborhood.
At around 11 am, about 100 ultra-Orthodox men arrived in the area and began hurling stones and potatoes at the building, smashed its windows and tried to break in. They were stopped by a police force and security guards.
The haredim continued to stand outside the building, chanting “Nazis” at the police officers and “Russians, go back to Russia” at the participants.
One of the security guards told Ynet, “One of the haredim kicked me in the back, while the others chanted, ‘Death to the Zionists.’ We were lucky that the police were here from the very beginning.
Another guard, who stopped the protestors from entering the hall, added that “at first there were only a few of them, and then masses suddenly arrived. They wouldn’t stop cursing, and only stopped when their rabbi told them to.”
The police said no arrests had been made.
The organizers of the event, which takes place once every few months, had prepared for the haredi protest in advance after spotting signs hung in the neighborhood on Friday, calling on the public to demonstrate against the conference.
Under the banner, “Beware – missionaries in Holon!!!”, the ads distributed around the neighborhood warned that “damned evil people are here to murder people and souls in Israel, like in the days of the inquisition, when Jews were slaughtered cold bloodedly.
“These are the corrupt missionaries who are hunting Jewish souls for money. Different elements calling themselves ‘Jews’ are helping these criminals carry out their scheme in public, for a bribe, and have allowed them to come to our city Holon and preach their impure and poisonous beliefs.”
Genadi Korobov, one of the organizers, was addressing the audience as the building was pelted with stones. “This is the third time in the past year that we visit Holon. We are already used to the haredi objection, but the amount and size of the stones we were hit with today was unusual,” he said.
“In the middle of my address, we suddenly heard the windows being smashed, and very large stones landed on the hall’s parquet, right next to disabled people in wheelchairs, who were sitting in special places. Luckily, no one was hurt, but we were forced to move the disabled audience to the center of the hall.