Police arresting ultra-Orthodox protesters last week marked their arms with numbers, in a move critics say was insensitive and reminiscent of the Nazis.
On Thursday, police arrested 120 ultra-Orthodox protesters in a wave of rallies across the country, as several thousand hardline anti-military draft demonstrators took to the streets in protests that caused major traffic disruptions in Jerusalem. Those who refused to identify themselves were marked with a number on their hands, Channel 10 reported Sunday.
The hardline ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hapeles, the mouthpiece of the radical faction behind the demonstrations, decried the move, which it described in a headline as having Nazi connotations. “The State of Israel acts as an anti-Semitic tyrannical regime,” the paper wrote.
In response, police said that, by law, those arrested were required to identify themselves. Refusing to do so was itself a crime.
“Most of them refused to identify themselves,” the spokesperson told Channel 10. “The criminal procedure requires identifying the perpetrators of the offense in order to establish an evidentiary infrastructure and identify them.”
— צעירי שס אלעד (@zeireshas) October 22, 2017
Police said they were forced to number the detainees in order to be able to identify them. The suspects were also identified in court by those numbers.
In several concentration camps, Nazis identified inmates by numbers tattooed onto their arms.
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox protesters launched major protests against the arrest of draft-dodging community members Thursday, capping a week of road-blocking actions and scuffles with the police.
Dozens of demonstrators blocked Jerusalem’s Kikar Hashabbat, a key intersection leading to several ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in the capital. Police said protesters there burned trash and pushed it into the street. For a short period, roads at the entrance to Jerusalem were blocked.
Protesters chanted, “We’d rather die than be drafted,” at the demonstrations.
Police said 120 people were arrested during the protests for blocking roads and the light rail, as well as for failing to obey police orders.
Further demonstrations were held in other locations including Bnei Brak, Ashdod and Beit Shemesh, as part of a so-called “day of rage.”
The protests were sparked by the arrest of two yeshiva students for failing to show up to the Israel Defense Forces draft offices.
The demonstrations were not backed by the entire ultra-Orthodox community, but drew support largely from extremist sections.
The so-called Jerusalem Faction, organizers of the protests, said they were determined to push back against what they claimed was a police crackdown that has seen dozens of protesters arrested.
“We are talking about a significant increase in severity of the measures against us and we will respond in kind,” the group said according to the Hebrew news site Kikar Hashabat, which caters to the ultra-Orthodox community.