Massive ultra-Orthodox demonstration set for Sunday

Massive ultra-Orthodox demonstration set for Sunday

Protest against draft law expected to disrupt routine in Jerusalem; Route 1 and bus station to close; schools near city entrance to shut early

Ultra-Orthodox protesters clash with police, February 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox protesters clash with police, February 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A large demonstration called by ultra-Orthodox leaders on Sunday in Jerusalem is expected to snarl traffic, close roads and shut down public transportation around the entrance to the city and the Knesset, police said on Thursday.

The protest against the draft law is expected to disrupt normal routine in Jerusalem and authorities are to deploy a large security contingent in an effort to keep the peace. In the past, ultra-Orthodox protesters have clashed with police — earlier this month in Ashdod, a protest which drew several hundred led to over a dozen arrests for rioting.

The authorities said that Route 1, the main road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, would be closed after 2 p.m. Sunday from the Latrun area to the capital, and the Jerusalem Central Bus Station would also be shut down in the afternoon.

Police warned of heavy traffic and blocked roads in the area around the entrance to Jerusalem and the Knesset. Buses and light rail service near the entrance to the city will cease Sunday afternoon, and public schools near the entrance to Jerusalem will close at 1 p.m.

Most public transportation and schools in the city are to function normally, police noted.

Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Yisrael Kellerman, one of the organizers of the event, said he hoped hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox would come. “We wanted to bring the Haredi community from the entire country,” he told Haredi news site Kikar Shabbat. “There were some difficulties because within a few short days we had to bring everyone — we have to bring thousands of buses; we hope that hundreds of thousands will arrive.”

Kellerman also said that Mayor Nir Barkat was cooperating in coordinating the event, as were security and rescue services.

Last week, ultra-Orthodox leaders debated the wisdom of holding large-scale public protests against the proposed draft law, which would require yeshiva students to do military or national service and punish individuals who do not report for service or institutions that facilitate resisting the law.

The latest version of the draft bill has faced scathing criticism from ultra-Orthodox leaders over its inclusion of individual criminal sanctions against draft-dodgers that would kick in if the community as a whole failed to meet rising quotas for the draft. But it has also faced criticism from proponents of an equal draft for delaying such criminal sanctions until mid-2017, after the next election.

Haviv Rettig Gur contributed to this report.

read more: