Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 16:14 UK

Court bid to end Jerusalem riots

Israeli police detain an ultra-orthodox Jew in Jerusalem on 16/7/09
Jerusalem's ultra-orthodox areas have seen days of tensions

An ultra-orthodox woman whose arrest on suspicion of starving her child sparked violent protests is to be freed into the custody of a Jerusalem rabbi.

Agreement to the move by a court and religious leaders aims to end clashes between orthodox Jews and police.

The detention of the woman, said to suffer from mental illness, had enraged the orthodox community.

But they are also angry at what they see as continuing interference by Israeli authorities in their community.

Some 18 police officers were injured in clashes overnight on Thursday and into Friday morning, police said.

More than 30 demonstrators were arrested and a further 20 held for questioning.

Dustbins were set on fire and stones hurled as protesters confronted police in two ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods, Mea Shearim and Bar-Ilan.

Katya Adler

Katya Adler, BBC News, Jerusalem

It is quieter here today in the ultra orthodox neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, it is the eve of the Jewish Sabbath. The narrow streets are heaving with people hurrying to do their family food shopping before sundown.

Still, the situation remains tense. As if waiting for trouble, men and boys line the backstreets dressed in their traditional black and white clothes, some of which date back to the 18th Century.

Many shout at us to go away. A few throw stones.

Non religious people are never welcome here. Most ultra-orthodox Jews prefer to shut themselves off from the modern secular world.

The area was quieter but still tense on Friday, the BBC's Katya Adler reports.

Israeli media reported that the city's magistrate court agreed to release the woman into the custody of a local rabbi, on a bail of 400,000 shekels ($100,000).

She is required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and other medical tests, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The mother is accused of deliberately depriving her three-year old son of food. He is now in hospital.

A hospital spokeswoman, Yael Bossem-Levy, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the woman had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a condition in which a person mimics or induces illness in another.

Car park

"We don't have weapons, we don't have tanks, we don't have policemen or jails," a spokesman for the protesters told Israeli Army radio.

"But we are sending in our army to save a family, to save a Jewish mother who is raising five children with love and warmth," Shmuel Pappenheim said.

But these riots are not just about the arrest of a religious woman, our correspondent says.

They are the angry expression of ongoing tensions between the orthodox community, which makes up about a third of Jerusalem's population, and the secular city mayor, she adds.

Many secular Israelis accuse the ultra-orthodox of anti-social behaviour - not just during riots.

Some see them as taking public handouts to support large families while avoiding paying taxes, dodging military service, and not even recognising the state of Israel.

Ultra-orthodox members have been protesting for several weeks over plans by the mayor to open a car park near the religiously sensitive Old City area on Saturdays, when orthodox Jews abstain from work.

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