Man arrested for taunting ultra-Orthodox protesters with porn
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Man arrested for taunting ultra-Orthodox protesters with porn

Police also summon female officer for questioning after she was filmed kicking Haredi demonstrators during anti-draft riots

An ultra-Orthodox protester screams at the people attending a ceremony for fallen ultra-Orthodox soldiers at a cemetery in the city of Bnei Brak on May 1, 2017, Israel's Memorial Day. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
An ultra-Orthodox protester screams at the people attending a ceremony for fallen ultra-Orthodox soldiers at a cemetery in the city of Bnei Brak on May 1, 2017, Israel's Memorial Day. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Police detained a suspect alleged to have distributed printed images containing “sexual content” during an ultra-Orthodox protest against conscription in Jerusalem on Saturday.

After the man arrived at the protest near the city center, he “scattered the fliers which contained sexual content and fled the scene,” police said in a Sunday statement.

The man had apparently been attempting to disperse the protesters, who likely would have been offended by the images.

Authorities said that a “strenuous” investigation helped them identify the suspect, who violated public decency laws by handing out the pornography.

Illustrative: An Israeli woman yells at ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrating in Jerusalem against the conscription of members of their community to the IDF on October 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Separately, the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department summoned a female officer for questioning Sunday on suspicion of assault after she was filmed kicking Haredi protesters during an earlier anti-conscription demonstration.

However, an investigation against a male officer who was filmed pulling a gun at Haredi protesters and shouting “Does anyone want to take a bullet?” is expected to be closed without an indictment, Channel 2 news reported.

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 Shabbat Square, 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.

An ultra-Orthodox Jew holds a sign during a protest in Jerusalem against the conscription of ultra-Orthodox Jews to the IDF on October 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

Further demonstrations were held in other locations including Bnei Brak, Ashdod and Beit Shemesh, as part of a so-called “day of rage.”

At same demonstrations, secular Israelis got out of their cars to try to push the protesters out of the way. “These people are scum,” one furious motorist told Channel 2 news, speaking near a group of ultra-Orthodox protesters. “My son serves in the army but they can’t?”

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.

Police officers arrests an ultra-Orthodox Jew during a demonstration in Jerusalem against the conscription of members of the ultra-Orthodox community to the IDF on October 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The protests were the latest in a series of demonstrations by ultra-Orthodox protesters over the arrest of members of the community for failing to show up to Israel Defense Forces draft offices.

The protests have often seen violent clashes with police as they try to remove demonstrators who are blocking roads.

Earlier this year the High Court of Justice struck down a law exempting ultra-Orthodox men engaged in religious study from military service, saying it undermined the notion of equality in the nation. The decision raises the possibility that they could be forced into service, a highly contentious proposition with political implications.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews block while demonstrating in Jerusalem against the conscription of members of their community to the IDF on October 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

However, the court suspended its decision for a year to allow for preparations for a new arrangement, providing the government with the opportunity to pass a new law.

Ultra-Orthodox political parties, holding key positions in the ruling coalition, are likely to draft new legislation that could seek to override the court ruling and keep the exemption in place.

The issue is part of a decades-old debate over whether young ultra-Orthodox men studying at yeshivas should undergo compulsory military service like the rest of Israel’s Jewish population. After reaching the age of 18, men must serve for 32 months and women must serve for 24.

The ultra-Orthodox oppose serving for a variety of reasons, with the most extreme believing a Jewish state is not allowed before the coming of the Messiah. Others argue that study of religious texts is just as important to Israel’s well-being as military service or that ultra-Orthodox soldiers would be confronted with irreligious behavior.

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