January 21, 2018
Hundreds of Orthodox residents of Jerusalem scuffled Saturday night with police forces, in an attempt to prevent authorities from taking a dead body for an autopsy.
Around midnight, it was discovered that a religious man staying in a local hostel on Zephaniah Street had died. Police were summoned, and local residents quickly understood that the police would probably take the body for an autopsy. For religious reasons, the Orthodox believe that the bodies of the deceased should not be tampered with, and generally oppose autopsies except in extreme cases.
Within minutes, an urgent call was sent out throughout the Orthodox neighborhoods of Meah Shearim and Beis Yisroel. The crowds quickly arrived at the hostel’s entrance. Sure enough, the police arrived on the scene and decided to take the body to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute. For over an hour, protesters succeeded in preventing the police ambulance from reaching the door. The scene turned violent after dozens of policemen were summoned to clear the way for the ambulance, which was stuck in the middle of a sea of protesters and couldn’t reach the hostel.
Around 1:30 a.m. police began using force to disperse the protesters, and the vehicle managed to reach the hostel.
Hundreds of people lay down on the road, blocking all exits. Around 2:30 AM, the officers’ patience wore out and they began to use stun grenades to disperse the protesters and get the vehicle out.
Footage from the incident showed stun grenades being thrown at the protesters and hundreds of Orthodox people running for cover, as the ambulance’s path was finally cleared.
However, some protesters still tried to interfere and blocked the driver’s way physically.
The video documentation shows a demonstrator walking backwards in front the ambulance and trying to block his way, but the driver continues to drive wildly, cruelly running over the protester.
A young man studying in the area related his experience: "It looked like a war zone. I saw dozens of policemen who came to disperse the Orthodox who demonstrated, unrestrained pushing and shoving, stun grenades. These are things that I, as a yeshiva student, do not remember seeing in a long time.”