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7 arrested in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh ultra-Orthodox draft protests

Demonstrators block roads, burn dumpsters over arrest of army-dodgers; 1 lightly hurt while trying to block light rail in capital

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

During a protest against the jailing of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a national service recruitment order, Border Police officers arrest an ultra-Orthodox man, in Beit Shemesh January 17, 2017. during a protest against the jailing of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a national service recruitment order. (Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)
During a protest against the jailing of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a national service recruitment order, Border Police officers arrest an ultra-Orthodox man, in Beit Shemesh January 17, 2017. during a protest against the jailing of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a national service recruitment order. (Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)

Seven people were arrested Tuesday evening during a third day of protests in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh by ultra-Orthodox activists who were protesting against the arrest of female IDF draft dodgers.

Many in the ultra-Orthodox community shun the mandatory military service that applies to most Israelis, and the community has historically enjoyed blanket exemptions in favor of religious seminary studies. But some in the ultra-Orthodox community, particularly women, refuse to even appear at the recruiting office to request such exemptions.

Three protesters were arrested in Jerusalem where dozens clashed with police and blocked roads with burning garbage dumpsters, Army Radio reported. One man was lightly injured after he tried to force a light rail train to stop by standing on the tracks close to Shivtei Yisrael Street in the capital. The driver made an emergency stop but was not able halt the 100-ton vehicle in time.

In Beit Shemesh four protesters were arrested for blocking roads and attacking police.

Ultra-Orthodox men block a road as they protest against the jailing of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a national service recruitment order, in Beit Shemesh, January 17, 2017. (Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox men block a road as they protest against the jailing of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a national service recruitment order, in Beit Shemesh, January 17, 2017. (Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)

The protests surrounded the arrest by military police at the beginning of the week of a female pupil at an ultra-Orthodox seminary in the southern city of Beersheba who did not file paperwork for an exemption from army service, Israel National News reported. After three days under arrest, the woman was released. Indictments against two other arrested ultra-Orthodox draftees were canceled by the Jaffa Military Court, the report said.

There have been frequent protests in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh against the draft of ultra-Orthodox people into national service.

Reforms passed in the Knesset in 2014 that sought to do away with the exemptions and gradually increase ultra-Orthodox recruitment have met fierce opposition from many in the religious community, who perceive the army as a threat to their way of life.

In late November, the Knesset approved an amendment to the Equal Service Law, dramatically rolling back 2014 reforms and scrapping collective penalties to be imposed if annual quotas for ultra-Orthodox draftees were not met.

A woman on a bus reacts as ultra-Orthodox Jews block a bus during a protest against ultra-Orthodox service in the IDF, in the neighbourhood of Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, January 17, 2017. (AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)
A woman on a bus reacts as ultra-Orthodox Jews block a bus during a protest against ultra-Orthodox service in the IDF, in the neighbourhood of Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, January 17, 2017. (AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)

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