From Edmund Sanders:
JERUSALEM — Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews flooded into the Old City’s Western Wall Plaza early Friday in a boisterous and sometimes violent protest against a group of female activists exercising a newly court-affirmed right to pray at the holy site in a similar fashion as men do.
It was a rare scene of chaos, protest and sporadic clashes by Jewish worshipers in front of what most view as Judaism’s most scared place after the Temple Mount.
Dressed in black hats and coats, mobs of young ultra-Orthodox men tossed eggs, water bottles and coffee cups at members of Women of the Wall as their leaders led a group of 100 men and women in prayer. Several women from the group wore white shawls and other religious ornaments, such as black tefillin boxes on their heads, traditionally used only by men at the site.
In anticipation of Friday’s service, religious seminaries from all over the country bussed in thousands of girls, who filled the fenced-off women’s section of the Western Wall to prevent the activists from entering.
Instead the Women of the Wall members held their service in the adjacent plaza as hundreds of Israeli riot police held back ultra-Orthodox young men who blew whistles, shouted insults and chanted in an effort to drown out the prayer.
Police, whom the youths called “Nazis,” arrested five men for disrupting the peace, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. As the women departed, some were pelted with rocks.
Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman, who on Friday was being protected by the same police who once arrested her performing a similar prayer service, predicted that it was only a matter of time before women won expanded rights at the holy site.