Haredi protesters shut down event for ultra-Orthodox lone soldiers

Haredi protesters shut down event for ultra-Orthodox lone soldiers

Demonstrators from fringe Jerusalem Faction group break into fundraiser for Osey Chail group in Ashdod

A fundraising event for soldiers from ultra-Orthodox communities who have been shunned by their families was forced to shut down early after dozens of protesters reportedly broke in Saturday night.

Members of the hard-line Jerusalem Faction ultra-Orthodox group in the coastal city of Ashdod were protesting the event by Osey Chail, an organization that supports lone soldiers from the ultra-Orthodox community.

According to reports, some dozen members of the group broke into a hall where a fundraising event was being held, forcing organizers to end the event early. Police were called to the scene but it was unclear if any arrests were made.

Video from outside the hall showed dozens of ultra-Orthodox protesters chanting against the organization and calling Osey Chail head Aharon Granot a “murderer of souls.”

Osey Chayil provides housing and support for soldiers from the ultra-Orthodox community whose families and communities disown them because of their service.

Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox IDF soldiers at the Peles Military Base in the Jordan Valley. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Many in the ultra-Orthodox community shun the mandatory military service that applies to most Israelis, and the community has historically enjoyed blanket exemptions from the army in favor of religious seminary studies.

Members of the community who do join are often shunned by the community and sometimes attacked. The army considers them to be lone soldiers, with the same status as immigrants who move to Israel without their families and serve in the army.

The Jerusalem Faction is a fringe ultra-Orthodox group which has led large demonstrations against the IDF conscripting members of the Haredi community or jailing draft dodgers.

Ultra-Orthodox protesters block a Jerusalem light rail train as they demonstrate against the arrest of an army draft-dodger in Jerusalem, November 28, 2018. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

MK Oded Forer of the Yisrael Beytenu party, which has led a push for ultra-Orthodox conscription, said Haredi political leaders were lending the protesters tacit support by not speaking out against them.

“The group of protesters who broke into the event for Haredi lone soldiers should be sitting behind bars,” he said, according to Channel 12 news.

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