Two religious Jews were stabbed and another was beaten in a fight with secular Jews in Jerusalem on Saturday, a police spokesman said _ an incident that could worsen tense relations between the city's observant and non-observant Jewish residents.
Resentment has been simmering for years as the ultra-Orthodox community has grown in size and influence. The friction worsened several weeks ago after the municipality opened a parking lot on the Jewish Sabbath, when religious Jews believe it is prohibited to drive.
The three men attacked in a religious neighborhood around dawn on Saturday were hospitalized with moderate wounds, said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby. The assailants fled and there were no arrests, Ben-Ruby said.
He said the wounded men told police secular Jews attacked them but that no further details would be available until the men could be interviewed again on Saturday evening, at the conclusion of the Sabbath.
Late Saturday afternoon, members of the ultra-Orthodox community plan to resume what have become weekly protests against the parking lot, which was opened to ease illegal parking in the city's ancient walled quarter.
Secular residents say the religious are trying to impose their beliefs in Jerusalem. Thousands of secular Jews leave the city every year, and in November, the growing resentment led to the election of a mayor who ran on a secular platform, defeating an ultra-Orthodox challenger.