Ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers ride white stretch limo back to jail
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Ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers ride white stretch limo back to jail

At event to honor two seminary student draft dodgers, crowd attacks religious soldier

Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attend a march in support of two Jewish seminary students draft dodgers who were sent to jail, Jerusalem, April 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attend a march in support of two Jewish seminary students draft dodgers who were sent to jail, Jerusalem, April 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A religious IDF soldier was attacked Tuesday night by a mob of ultra-Orthodox Jews during a rally in support of two draft dodgers from their community who, at the end of a short furlough, were driven back to military prison in a white stretch limousine.

On Tuesday, dozens of protesters threw debris and shouted curses at the soldier, who was wearing a yarmulke, as hundreds chased him a long a street at the Bar Ilan junction in Jerusalem.

The soldier escaped unhurt from the incident. According to a report from Channel 2, police have not arrested anyone in connection with the assault.

A mobile phone video of the attack showed the soldier as he was hounded by dozens of noisy demonstrators.

The arrest and imprisonment of ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers has raised tensions in the community and a recent series of large demonstrations against the induction of ultra-Orthodox people into the army saw violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

IDF soldiers on leave who entered ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods have also been attacked on several occasions

Channel 2 said it was the fourth incident of IDF soldiers being attacked by ultra-Orthodox protesters in two days.

The demonstration, held at the end of the first day of the week-long Passover festival and attended by thousands, was organized by so-called ‘Jerusalem Faction,” a protest group against the induction of ultra-Orthodox people into the IDF.

It was to mark the return to jail of two religious seminary student draft dodgers, Yisrael Meir Toledano and Tsvi Dov Freidman, who were granted a furlough from the IDF’s Prison 4 to spend the seder, a festive meal on the first night of Passover, together with their families. During the demonstration, the two men and their families were driven in a white stretch limousine organized by the Jerusalem Faction movement.

Earlier this month, Toledano was sentenced to 56 days in military jail for failing to report to the IDF recruitment office. His arrest a month ago sparked a number of protests, some of which turned violent. The demonstrators blocked roads and threw rocks and other objects at police in protests centered in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the nearby city of Beit Shemesh. Several police officers were injured and dozens of demonstrators arrested. Toledano’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has encouraged the protests against his arrest.

Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators during ultra-Orthodox anti-draft protests in Jerusalem on March 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators during ultra-Orthodox anti-draft protests in Jerusalem on March 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The ultra-Orthodox, known as Haredi, are generally exempt from serving in the army if they are studying in yeshivas, although the issue is controversial for secular Israelis, and attempts have been made to roll back the longstanding exemption.

Either way, ultra-Orthodox students called to the draft must register at the recruitment office before seeking an exemption. Toledano’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has encouraged the protests against his arrest.

Some extremist rabbis, among them Auerbach, prohibit their followers from even registering. Those that don’t become draft dodgers and face imprisonment by the military.

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