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Israel Beit Shemesh Protests Continue

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Israelis hold up signs reading in Hebrew:
Israelis hold up signs reading in Hebrew: "Gender segregation is my red line, stop gender segregation now", top left and right, and "Beit Shemesh is a Zionist town", bottom left, as they protest in the central Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011. Thousands of Israelis gathered in the central Israeli town of Beit Shemesh Tuesday night to demonstrate against a radical Jewish sect that is trying to impose its conservative lifestyle on others, mainly gender segregation. (AP Photo/Da

Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets over the past two days to protest ultra-orthodox calls for stricter forms of gender segregation. On Tuesday, a large rally took place near a girls' school in Beit Shemesh, the city that has become the focus point of the debate on the position of women in Israel's public sphere. On Wednesday, protests continued as female demonstrators rallied in Tel Aviv shouting slogans such as "This isn't Iran."

Tuesday's rally centered around the school of a modern-orthodox girl, Naama Margolese, who explained on television that she was scared to walk to school for fear of being bullied by ultra-orthodox men for not being dressed modestly enough. Margolese is 8-years-old and attends a religious school.

"When I walk to school in the morning I used to get a tummy ache because I was so scared ... that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting... They were scary. They don't want us to go to the school," she told the Associated Press.

Spates of violence have erupted in Beit Shemesh in the past few days. Several reporters have been attacked while covering the protests in the neighborhood. Two film crews were attacked and a policeman was lightly injured, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Haaretz reports that Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the violence and said that the country will act against anyone who harasses women in public.

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