Five police officers injured during ultra-Orthodox rioting
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Five police officers injured during ultra-Orthodox rioting

Youth arrested as police disperse demonstrators in Jerusalem protesting IDF draft; soldier attacked

Illustrative. Ultra-Orthodox men protest against the arrest of an IDF draft-dodger, in Jerusalem August 19, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative. Ultra-Orthodox men protest against the arrest of an IDF draft-dodger, in Jerusalem August 19, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Five police officers were lightly injured overnight as dozens of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators pelted them with stones and bottles during rioting in Jerusalem, police said in a statement Monday.

A youth was arrested as police dispersed the crowds that had gathered amid ongoing tensions over the compulsory draft of ultra-Orthodox community members, also known as Haredim, into the IDF for national service.

The protesters gathered at two places in the capital, at the Kikar Hashabbat intersection and on Shomrei Emunim Street. The rioters rolled garbage cans into the road and blocked the street for a short time, police said.

Officers pushed the protesters back and prevented them from reaching Route 1 before dispersing them, the statement said.

In the streets of the Bukharim quarter of the capital, ultra-Orthodox residents began to congregate around a uniformed IDF soldier who was walking in the area and then threw bags of garbage at him. Police were alerted to the incident, located the soldier and extracted him uninjured for the area.

Recent months have seen a surge in sometimes-violent action by extremist ultra-Orthodox elements who are vehemently opposed to mandatory army service.

Earlier this month Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s entourage was attacked by protesters when he made a condolence visit to a family in mourning in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem.

Actions against the draft have included mass protests by thousands of demonstrators in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and Beit Shemesh, cities that have large ultra-Orthodox communities. Arrests of draft-dodgers have also been met with large protests.

Ultra-Orthodox Israelis, who for decades enjoyed an exemption from army service, oppose what they say is the IDF’s lax observance of Jewish laws. Recent attempts to cater to ultra-Orthodox recruits have been met with some success, but many ultra-Orthodox soldiers still face harassment, threats, and assault while on leave in their Haredi neighborhoods.

Some segments of ultra-Orthodox society refuse to recognize the State of Israel and oppose Zionism, because of their belief that the establishment of a Jewish state should only come after the arrival of the messiah.

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