The clashes, which began Saturday night, were held under the banner of 'The Battle for Jerusalem'. Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men tried to storm the lot in Safra Square, many of whom threw rocks, dirty diapers and other objects at security forces. Both Saturday and again on Sunday, demonstrators lit trash cans on fire and blocked roads....
Haredi organizers submitted and were granted a request to hold the protest, but promised to limit their activities to gathering and reading from the Torah.
Police fear that the weekend riot is only the tip of the iceberg. Haredi leaders have already issued a formal announcement that they would protest every Saturday until the lot was closed. "I think this was just the opening move," Zaka Chairman Moshe Meshi Zahav said Saturday. "It's very comfortable for the haredi community to paint Barkat as anti-religious; the time is ripe for that. The fact that the first day of the protest garnered thousands showed that it was a success.
Protestors set garbage bins on fire (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
And this is why the municipality decided to open the parking garage:
Over the last several years, all parking lots near the Old City were closed on Shabbat due to haredi pressure. But after a recent decision to bar vehicles from entering the Old City itself on Shabbat, a parking solution for the visitors became more pressing, since many drivers just parked their cars in no-parking zones around the Old City.
I hope that similar riots will not greet this year's Gay Pride March in Jerusalem, which is scheduled for June 25.