November 21, 2009 / 2:14 PM / 8 years ago

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest at Intel Israel plant

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JERUSALEM, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated on Saturday at Intel Corp.'s new electronic chip plant in Israel, in protest against work taking place at the site on the Jewish Sabbath.

Policemen dispersed the crowd and arrested several protesters for violent conduct, a police spokesman said.

The protesters said opening the plant for work on Saturday was a desecration of the Sabbath, which runs from Friday night to Saturday night. Ultra-Orthodox Jews held a similar protest last week outside the plant.

The protests highlighted tensions between Israel's largely secular Jewish population and an Orthodox Jewish minority that insists the Jewish state follow ancient religious laws that prohibit driving or working on the Jewish sabbath.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have held similar demonstrations in the city over the past few months to protest at the opening of a parking lot on Saturdays.

In July, they rioted in protest at the arrest of an Orthodox woman suspected of starving her 3-year-old child.

Religious and secular Israelis in Jerusalem live in a delicate balance. In Orthodox neighbourhoods, families in traditional black garb stroll to synagogues during the Sabbath and Jewish holidays on roads blocked to cars. In downtown Jerusalem, secular Jews frequent non-Kosher bars and eateries.

Reporting by Yehuda Gruber; Writing by Joseph Nasr

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