An IDF officer in uniform was assaulted on Friday by an angry mob in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim, an attack condemned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “outrageous,” and by Shas leader Arye Deri as “an act of terror.”
The man, identified as Second Lieutenant A. from the Givati infantry brigade, was in the neighborhood to visit two of his soldiers before the onset of Shabbat when he was surrounded and pelted with objects.
Following an in-home visit with one of his soldiers, the platoon commander was surrounded by a group of dozens of ultra-Orthodox individuals who began threatening him and pelting him and his car with eggs, stones, bags of water and soiled diapers. His car sustained significant damage.
Netanyahu condemned the assault, calling for the officer’s attackers to be brought to justice.
“This is outrageous. The offenders who raised their hands against an IDF officer must be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. IDF service is a source of pride. The IDF is the people’s army and protects everyone. All population groups in Israeli society serve in its ranks; this is how it has been and how it will continue,” the PM said.
Arye Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, called the attack “an act of terror” by “Jewish extremists.” He also called on the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The officer, a veteran of Operation Protective Edge, tried to level with the angry mob, but had little success, his mother Yael said: “He said to them, ‘Guys, you are confused, I fought in Gaza nine months ago so you could study Torah,’ but they did not stop.”
The officer also said that several female residents threatened to kill him if he did not leave immediately.
The commander’s mother, a resident of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron, claimed her son barely made it out of the neighborhood alive: “[He told me] they had murder in their eyes, just like the terrorists of the [Gazan city] Khan Younis in the last war. Nobody in the crowd tried to protect him… He escaped by the skin of his teeth.”
Tensions between ultra-Orthodox community and the army have been high of late, as leaders of the community perceive the army as a threat to their way of life and wish to prevent the enlistment of its members.
A number of ultra-Orthodox recruits have been disowned by their families and ultra-Orthodox soldiers complain of regular harassment and violence by community members.
Second Lieutenant A. filed a complaint with the police and reported the attack to his superiors, but said he did not want attention drawn to the incident.
Relatives of the officer condemned the alleged attack, remarking on how the incident came days after Memorial Day — when the commander mourned his uncle, who was killed in fighting to capture the Western Wall during the Six Day War in 1967.
The officer’s mother said her son’s attackers were ungrateful for the sacrifices he had made to the country: “My car is broken and completely destroyed. When the parents of these children slept soundly during the war, I did not sleep a wink knowing my son was in Shejaiya (a Hamas stronghold and Gaza city neighborhood where a fierce battle occurred between members of the terror group and the IDF last July), and I am not ready to shut up over the fact that their children attacked him today.”