Police officer injured in ultra-Orthodox draft riots
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Police officer injured in ultra-Orthodox draft riots

Spokesperson says law enforcement has 'zero tolerance' for ongoing violent protests over arrest of yeshiva student

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the arrest of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a recruitment order, at the entrance to Jerusalem, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the arrest of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a recruitment order, at the entrance to Jerusalem, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A policewoman was lightly injured on Monday night by a rock as ultra-Orthodox activists rioted over the arrest of a student who dodged the military draft.

Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the officer was injured as police tried to break up a riot in Jerusalem’s primarily ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood and nearby Bar Ilan Street.

The protesters threw rocks and other objects at police, and physically attacked and verbally abused them while attempting to block streets to traffic, she said.

Police arrested 31 suspects, who were interrogated and were set to be brought before a court on Tuesday. In a statement Samri said that police had “zero tolerance” for those rioting or using violence against police.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the arrest of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a recruitment order, at the entrance to Jerusalem, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the arrest of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a recruitment order, at the entrance to Jerusalem, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The protests follow the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva student, Yisrael Meir Toledano, who was arrested nine days ago for failing to report to the IDF recruitment office.

Military prosecutors have recommended a three-and-half-month jail term for Toledano, from the southern city of Ofakim.

Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem, is behind the calls to take to the streets to demonstrate.

Auerbach leads a splinter faction opposed to the authority of the Lithuanian community’s principal leader, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the arrest of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a recruitment order, at the entrance to Jerusalem, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the arrest of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a recruitment order, at the entrance to Jerusalem, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A statement from the Committee to Save the World of Torah said that all attempts to use “brutality” against Torah students by detaining them for lengthy periods or giving them jail terms would be met with courage by other Torah students who were “ready to give their lives.” The protests would continue until all those under arrest left prison and returned to their “natural place” in the study hall, the statement added.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews represent about 10 percent of the Israeli population and live in compliance with a strict interpretation of Jewish laws.

Some of them view military service as a source of temptation for young people who then leave the closed world of prayer and religious study.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the arrest of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a recruitment order, at the entrance to Jerusalem, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the arrest of a Jewish seminary student who failed to comply with a recruitment order, at the entrance to Jerusalem, on March 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The ultra-Orthodox are generally exempt from serving if they are studying in religious schools known as yeshivas, although the issue is controversial for secular Israelis, and attempts have been made to roll back the longstanding exemption.

Either way, ultra-Orthodox students called to the draft must register at the recruitment office before seeking an exemption.

Some extremist rabbis, among them Auerbach, prohibit their followers from even registering.

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