Some 300 haredim were protesting Wednesday near the Jerusalem cemetery where Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is buried, against the cemetery's closing time, which they insist is too early and interferes with their wish to pay their respects to the late rabbi.
The protesters, gathered at the Bar Ilan intersection in the capital, were throwing stones at police officers, who used crowd dispersal measures to clear the rioters. Three people were arrested.
A police car was damged after it was hit with a stone. Rioters have also set fire to trash cans and tried to block the road.
According to the protesters, the decision to close the gates of the Sanhedria Cemetery at 8 pm prevents them from praying near Rabbi Yosef's grave. "All we want to do is pay our respects to a great man," a protester said, adding that "Rabbi (Elazar) Shach is buried in Bnei Brak, in a cemetery that is open 24 hours a day. Many cemeteries are open all night."
According to another protester, police arrived at the cemetery since the gates were broken. "The public is mad. People come to the cemetery every day, and on Fridays it closes early.
"A great man is buried here. We've come to protest, we broke down the cemetery gates, and then police came and havoc ensued. Police officers hit people and fights broke out. In the meantime we plan to stay here and protest."