Soldier attacked by ultra-Orthodox mob in Jerusalem

Haredi youths surround IDF conscript and throw garbage at him; no arrests made

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Israeli Border Police officers keep the peace in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood on Tuesday, July 9. (photo credit: Flash90)
Israeli Border Police officers keep the peace in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood on Tuesday, July 9. (photo credit: Flash90)

An IDF soldier was attacked in an ultra-Orthodox area of Jerusalem on Thursday, the fourth such attack in the past few weeks.

The assault occurred mid-day in Beit Yisrael, just north of Mea Shearim. A religious soldier was walking through the neighborhood to visit relatives when Haredi youngsters began to gather and call him names, including “Nazi.”

The incident escalated as the crowd began throwing trash at the soldier, who ran into his relatives’ home and alerted authorities.

“There were a lot of people,” the soldier told Ynet. “They threw bags at me, cartons, vegetables. I saw that it wasn’t stopping so I simply called the police.”

When police arrived on the scene, the attackers fled.

The soldier expressed anger at the treatment he received on the streets of the country’s capital. “I come back from the northern border, make sure people don’t come in and don’t hurt anyone; it doesn’t matter who you are — Haredi, secular, religious, Jew, Arab — and this is what you get. It’s a tough feeling.”

As in previous cases in which soldiers were attacked by Haredim, police still haven’t made any arrests.

The attack against the soldier was the latest in a pattern of similar assaults in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. There were at least three physical attacks on Haredi soldiers in July in Jerusalem.

On July 11, an ultra-Orthodox soldier walking through the streets of Jerusalem was assaulted by a group of Haredi men. The incident occurred on Shmuel HaNavi Street, when a commercial van pulled up to the soldier and the occupants began cursing and throwing food and water at him.

Two days before, another Haredi soldier was attacked by dozens of ultra-Orthodox men in Mea Shearim. He managed to escape the mob, who beat him with sticks and fists and threw eggs at him, by running into a nearby apartment building and calling the police.

The rise in violence comes as the government seeks to enact legislation designed to end blanket exemptions from military service for Haredi men.

Last year, a High Court of Justice ruling declared a long-standing ultra-Orthodox exemption from conscription, the “Tal Law,” to be unconstitutional. The parties who make up the current government have vowed to fulfill their election promise to enact a more “equitable” universal national service.

An early draft of the government’s universal draft legislation passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation last month. The ad hoc committee will meet every Thursday during the Knesset’s current recess, which began Wednesday and will continue until October, to prepare the bill for passage during the Knesset’s winter session.

Elsewhere in Jerusalem, a young secular man on Thursday attacked an ultra-Orthodox man on a public bus in Jerusalem, after the religious passenger demanded that a woman move to the back of the bus.

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