Haredi extremists attack ultra-Orthodox reserve soldier in Bnei Brak

Group blocks car with trash cans; yells hateful chants at other residents who come to defend him; municipality slams ‘inappropriate behavior,’ says suspects arrested

A Haredi reservist soldier (right) is mobbed by ultra-Orthodox extremists in the city of Bnei Brak, November 20, 2023. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A Haredi reservist soldier (right) is mobbed by ultra-Orthodox extremists in the city of Bnei Brak, November 20, 2023. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An ultra-Orthodox reservist soldier was attacked and targeted with hateful chants by a group of Haredi extremists in the central city of Bnei Brak on Monday.

The group of youths surrounded the man’s car and tipped over trash cans to block it, while yelling at him and other residents who came to defend him, footage of the incident shows.

The Israel Hayom daily reported that one of the soldiers was a resident of Netanya who serves as a medic identifying the bodies of those fallen in battle.

The footage showed a woman wearing typical religious attire telling the group to leave, and in response, the extremists call her a shikse — a derogatory term referring to a non-Jewish woman.

Police said they arrested a 23-year-old man from Bnei Brak over the attack.

It also said police helped heads of an unspecified Yeshiva attended by the perpetrator make contact with the soldier to apologize for the incident, who said such attacks were “not their way.”

In a statement, United Torah Judaism party chair Yitzhak Goldknopf slammed the attack by those on the “fringes of the camp.”

“‘Love your neighbor as yourself is the saying of every Jew, all the more so of the heroic IDF soldiers, who sacrifice their lives at this time for the defense of the people and the country. I trust the law enforcement agencies to quickly arrest the offenders, and bring them to justice,” he wrote in a statement.

The Bnei Brak municipality also condemned the incident, adding that police arrived on the scene and arrested those suspected of involvement, who were not apparently residents of the city.

“Bnei Brak cherishes and strengthens the soldiers who give their lives for the nation and country. This inappropriate behavior does not and will not have a foothold in our city!”

Haredi neighborhoods and cities in Israel occasionally see incidents of public shaming of soldiers, as many in the ultra-Orthodox community shun the mandatory military service that applies to most Israelis. The community has historically enjoyed blanket exemptions in favor of religious seminary studies.

However, since the outbreak of war on October 7, there has been a surge of some 3,000 Haredim, who would otherwise be exempt from service, signing up to be recruited, indicating a shift to some degree in the community.

Earlier this month, the 40-year-old son of ultra-Orthodox Shas party leader Aryeh Deri enlisted, generating particular interest, since Haredi leaders have insisted on preserving the military exemption despite growing resentment among many secular and religious-Zionist Israelis.

War erupted after Hamas’s shock October 7 assault on southern Israeli communities, when 3,000 terrorists broke through the border and murdered some 1,200 people, a majority of them civilians, amid brutal atrocities, and kidnapped some 240 people to Gaza. Israel then launched a massive air and ground offensive aimed at eliminating the terror group.

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