For the first time since the dissolution of the Tal Law, which granted blanket de-facto exemptions from IDF service to Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, a 19-year-old Yeshiva student was arrested and subsequently sent to 14 days in prison for failing to respond to a draft summons.
On Wednesday afternoon, following the arrest, hundreds of Haredim — including prominent ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach — rallied outside of Prison Six where the student was being held.
Moshe A., a resident of Kiryat Malachi and student at a Petah Tikva yeshiva, was arrested in his home in the early hours of Sunday morning after he ignored numerous conscription summonses.
The student received a preliminary deferment after his initial conscription order prior to the dissolution of the Tal Law. However, following the revocation of the law in July 2012, the student did not respond to the follow-up summons.
“What are the Haredim thinking? That if they don’t respond to the subpoenas, we’ll just continue on our way?” an official from the IDF’s Personnel Division told Channel 2. “We adhere to the prescribed law, and those who don’t come to us — we’ll go to them.”
Over 700 Haredi men gathered outside the prison in the coastal city of Atlit and staged a fairly peaceful demonstration.
They held aloft signs reading “Down with religious persecution in Israel” and “The enlistment — a plot to dismantle the holy Yeshivot,” and sang and danced to Hanukkah songs.
Auerbach met briefly with the imprisoned student and offered him words of encouragement. Since July 2012, Auerbach has reportedly urged Haredi students to ignore their draft notices.
“[May] God place in the hearts of our brothers the understanding that those who keep the Torah are the soul of the Jewish people,” Auerbach said following his meeting with the incarcerated student “And [may] this decree be canceled and may there be a lot of Torah in Israel.”
A new, government-sponsored bill that would regulate the draft passed its first reading in the Knesset on July 23. The bill would greatly reduce the number of deferments given to Yeshiva students and is expected to radically increase Haredi enlistment. The proposed legislation is currently undergoing revision, and will be up for a second and third Knesset reading at a later date.