Gang Violence between ultra-Orthodox sects rocks Jerusalem neighborhood
A group of Hasidim brutally attacked Avraham Hirschman, 36, a father of six, Thursday, resulting in his hospitalization with fractures and other serious injuries.
Residents of the Mea She’arim neighborhood in Jerusalem fear the violence that has erupted between two ultra-Orthodox sects will grow and complain the police are not protecting them.
On Tuesday night a group of Hasidim brutally attacked Avraham Hirschman, 36, a father of six, with clubs, kicks and blows. Hirschman was hospitalized with fractures and other serious injuries.
“They said we’ll murder you,” Hirschman told Haaretz. “The police knew in advance they were planning the attack but didn’t lift a finger.”
The assault was part of a violent dispute between members of the large Hasidic Gerrer dynasty and the fanatic Sikrikim group (named after the Sicarii sect in 70 C.E. ) in Mea She’arim.
Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated in the neighborhood following the attack and many prayed for Hirschman’s recovery. Many protesters condemned the Gerrer Hasids for the attack, but the ultra-Orthodox newspapers of all the factions are ignoring the affair and some ultra-Orthodox figures have even expressed sympathy for the perpetrators rather than the victim.
Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, head of the voluntary emergency response organization Zaka, came out openly against Hirschman and his colleagues. “They must be beaten up. The Sikrikim understand only force. They can’t employ violence all the time and then shed crocodile tears,” he said.
The Batei Warsaw quarter in Mea She’arim was built in the Ottoman period as a hostel for yeshiva students from Poland. Their families receive tiny apartments for key money or low rent. The Polish Gerrer dynasty, which always had people in the neighborhood committee, has gained almost complete control of it in recent years and is now planning to expand the quarter.
Although they do not recognize the state or its institutions, the Batei Warsaw tenants, most of whom belong to other ultra-Orthodox factions, have filed a court suit to stop the Gerrer Hasids’ expansion. This move is believed to have sparked the recent hostilities.
I am very familiar with this neighborhood, lived in Mea Shearim for three years and frequently visited friends and relatives in the Batei Varsha.
Avraham Hirschmann who is represented here in Haaretz as an innocent victim, belongs to a gand of thugs called the “Sicariim” after the old assassin gang during the time of the Roman Empire. He and his homeys have been responsible for throwing acid at women they thought were dressed immodestly, firebombing bookstores that sold “heretical” material, and general mayhem and mischief.
There is a turf war going on between this gang and the Gerrer Hasidim, who are known as generally moderate, politically active citizens, and who serve in the IDF.
It is disgraceful that these gangs run wild in Jerusalem and Bnai Brak, and they have to be dealt with forcefully, however law enforcement should be involved, not vigilante action.