Families Forced to Walk to Yerushalayim as Public, Group Transit Halted on Shushan Purim

NEW YORK -
Young men walk past a temporary police roadblock at the Hemed Junction towards Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Instead of simcha, the roads to Yerushalayim were filled with anger and frustration as thousands of people, including chareidi families with children, were forced to walk to the city as police halted public transit and group transit from Motzai Shabbos until tomorrow.

For those who live in Yerushalayim or have family there, many reported being turned away from multiple entrances to the city and ordered to return to where they had been coming from. Many had no choice but to get out and walk.

Private family cars are allowed in, but police are considering any car with more than three people a group. Police checkpoints have been established at the entrances to the city to keep busses and vans full of people from heading in. Those who violate the temporary ban by organizing group transit may be fined 5,000 NIS. There have been reports that police have been profiling frum people and stopping cars driven by chareidim.

A Yerushalayim resident told Hamodia their private van was stuck in traffic and had been refused entry three times, but family cars passed them by. She added she saw many people in costume get out of their vans and walk, or ask private cars to take on another passenger.

Chairman United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni said in a statement, “This is a behavior lacking any logic.” He noted nothing like this was done in other locations, and said the measures were discrimination against chareidim.

MK Bezalel Smotrich attacked the police, saying, “To see thousands walking with children to Yerushalayim is an embarrassment.”

The police department said in a statement, “We see in the last few hours hundreds of citizens who are walking on main roads and highways. We repeat the call to the public to listen to the instructions and return to their homes as this is a real danger to them and to the drivers.”

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smarcus@hamodia.com