Jerusalem -- Seven police officers were injured when members of an ultra-Orthodox sect staging a rally Sunday night to protest this week's gay pride parade in Jerusalem began throwing rocks and stones at them.
More than 10,000 haredi took part in the rally, far fewer than the 100,000 organizers had predicted would turn out. The sect had been given a police permit for the rally - to let sect members vent their anger over a decision to allow the gay parade to take place on Thursday.
An estimated 15,000 police were assigned to the haredi protest to ensure public safety.
Haredi rabbis reportedly whipped the crowd into a frenzy, calling gays evil and warning that the gay march would bring disaster on the holy city.
"Anyone who helps the evil will be judged," one rabbi told the crowd.
As the rally was dispersing younger haredi began throwing rocks and stones at police.
A policewoman was taken to hospital. Six other officers were treated by paramedics at the scene.
Garbage cans were set on fire and some haredi leaders said the protests were likely to escalate if the parade is not cancelled.
Protests by the haredi have been staged nightly since the gay parade received a police sanction last week and an openly gay Jerusalem city councilor is under police protection following dozens of death threats. (story)
At least 12 haredi protestors were arrested Sunday night.
Last year's pride march was cancelled following a week of rioting in Jerusalem by the haredi.
Thousands of sect members took to the streets for a week, setting fire to garbage cans and injuring more than a dozen people.
Instead of holding a march Open House held a pride concert and celebration at Hebrew University where anyone entering the grounds was checked by police. (story) There were no incidents.
But the march preceding year was marred by violence. More than a than a dozen protestors were arrested and three people were stabbed.
Almost 1,000 protestors lined the parade route. Bottles of urine and bags containing feces were hurled at marchers.
Shortly after the parade began Shai Schlissel, a haredi member, rushed into the marchers on Ben Yehuda Street stabbing a man and a woman.
Others in the parade attempted to subdue him. The third victim was a marcher who went to the aid of the other two victims. (story) Schlissel is in prison for the attack.