Israeli police close down porkhouse in ultra-orthodox Jerusalem neighbourhood

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Police in Jerusalem make an arrest during a sting operation at a porkhouse in the ultra-orthodox neighbourhood of Mea Shearim Friday evening. After this photo was taken, residents pelted the photographer with stones for using flash photography on the Sabbath. (Photo credit withheld at the request of the photographer.)
Police in Jerusalem make an arrest during a sting operation at a porkhouse in the ultra-orthodox neighbourhood of Mea Shearim Friday evening. After this photo was taken, residents pelted the photographer with stones for using flash photography on the Sabbath. (Photo credit withheld at the request of the photographer.)

JERUSALEM — Israeli police stormed a residence in Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox neighbourhood of Mea Shearim Friday, making several arrests, and confiscating almost 600 kilograms of pork and pork derivatives Friday evening, with a street value of nearly 50,000 NIS ($15,000 CAD). It was the second sting operation of its kind in two weeks, according to Jerusalem police chief, Jacob Chazir.

“It’s becoming a real problem,” says Chazir. “You might expect something like this in Tel Aviv, but what happens is the porkhouses are popping up in ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods. There they can continue relatively undetected. You don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.”

Friday’s operation took place after police had received a tip from a neighbour who became suspicious when she saw someone going into the apartment with a bag of bagels during Passover.

The underground pork trade has been gaining notoriety in Israel for the past several years, according to Chazir. “People go to parties. They’ve never even seen a pork chop. Then someone shows up with a pizza covered with bacon bits. They don’t know what it is. Once they become hooked, next thing thing they’re living on the street in Tel Aviv peddling oyster sauce to support a cheeseburger addiction.”

Chazir also warns that there’s a danger in Israeli schoolyards, with pork peddlers targeting Israeli youth. “They’ll show up with a bag of pork rinds and start passing them out to the kids, just to get them hooked. The public needs to be aware.”

What can parents do? “Talk to your kids,” advises Chazir. “Get to know them. Ask questions. Listen to them, non-judgementally. Search their rooms when they’re out. We can win the battle against pork, but it’s got to start at home.”

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