Israel’s wall nears monastery; protest turns violent

Three journalists were among eight injured on June 20 in the West Bank town of Beit Jala as locals and internationals gathered to protest the continued construction of Israel’s separation wall. Border guards at the site, near the 18th century Cremisan winery and monastery, beat protesters with batons, and fired sound bombs, tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets, witnesses said. (Ma’an News Agency, June 21)

Meanwhile, Israel this week witnessed one of the largest protests in its history, as some 120,000 Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews rallied in Jerusalem and near Tel Aviv. They turned out to support parents who refused to let their girls share classrooms with Jewish pupils of Sephardic or Middle Eastern descent. The protests were triggered by a court ruling sentencing some 80 Ashkenazi parents to two weeks in jail for contempt of court. “The Supreme Court is fascist,” one poster read.

The Ashkenazi parents want segregated classrooms because they say Sephardic families are not religious enough. “I don’t want my daughter to be educated with a girl who has a TV at home,” said Yakov Litzman, MP with the United Torah Judaism party. (BBC News, June 17)

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