Thousands participated in the ‘Kabolas Pnei Rabbo’ event in the Jerusalem Arena Stadium, which included the members of the Shas Moetzas Chachmei HaTorah, headed by HaGaon HaRav Shalom Cohen Shlita. The turnout was a large one, especially after Shas’ success in the Knesset election, earning eight seats.
The thousands celebrated Yomtov together, listening to the address of Chacham Cohen as well as Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri. Deri apologized to the crowd waiting outside. Thousands arrived from around Israel, hoping to get inside to participate in the event. Police however prevented many from entering, explaining to the disappointed crowd that the arena was full to capacity. Violence and then rioting erupted at the entrance to the stadium.
Police arrested eight youths on suspicion of violence and disturbing the peace in a public area. Later, all were released. “During the incident, despite the significant police presence, additional people tried to enter by force and against the instructions of police and security guards stationed at the entrances,” the police said.
On the other hand, the bnei torah who were outside the hall presented another version of the situation, according to which the security guards allegedly used harsh and excessive violence against those who wished to enter the stadium.
According to a Kikar Shabbos News report, a video obtained showing the entrance to the stadium shows a security guard seen holding a young man who wanted to enter the conference and a riot ensued that included violence, tear gas and the young man was thrown to the ground. It should be emphasized that the video does not show what happened beforehand, and it is possible that the young men confronted the security guard. Any attempt to obtain the response of the security guard was unsuccessful.
“It makes no sense,” said one of the participants who attended the conference. “Thousands of people came from all over the country and stayed outside, in the Jerusalem cold, and some of them had to return home with great disappointment,” he said, adding “they treated us inconsiderately, as if we were fans of a sports team and we came to attack other fans”.
It is also reported the Shas-affiliated deputy mayors and city councilmen from around the country were unable to get into the stadium, forced to return home without attending. However, those attending reported there were “hundreds of empty seats inside”. Stadium officials’ report that the seats were full and apparently, some persons left their seats and headed down to the VIP area.
The security company also showed photos depicting violence by the Shas crowd attending, adding 15,000 people arrived but the stadium only holds 10,000. Hence, Israel Police was compelled to shut down entry to so many.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)