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Three arrested for disrupting IDF-related conference in Jerusalem

Ultra-Orthodox youths suspected of rioting during confab for potential Haredi enlistees; NGO warns of possible murder of Haredi soldiers unless authorities crack down

Illustrative photo of soldiers from Nahal Haredi, an ultra-Orthodox battalion in the Israel Defense Forces (Abir Sultan/Flash90, File)
Illustrative photo of soldiers from Nahal Haredi, an ultra-Orthodox battalion in the Israel Defense Forces (Abir Sultan/Flash90, File)

Three young ultra-Orthodox men were arrested Thursday night for assault and damage to property, after they allegedly disrupted a meeting for youths preparing to enlist in the IDF which was attended by several dozen ultra-Orthodox men, according to police.

They will be brought on Friday before the court for a remand extension.

According to Army Radio, several vehicles were damaged in the altercation that erupted after the three assailants disrupted the meeting. Police quelled the small-scale riot with water cannons.

Police also said that the personal details of the ultra-Orthodox participants of the conference were published, so that the community could ostracize them. It was not clear whether the details were published by the three protesters.

The director of the Hiddush organization, an NGO working to promote freedom of religion and equality, said that “it looks like until an ultra-Orthodox soldier is murdered nothing will be done to stop terror against the recruitment of Haredi men. The feeble response of authorities strengthens the daring and insolent behavior of the ultra-Orthodox zealous hooligans.”

“The situation in which we ask yeshiva boys to enlist but do not give them sufficient protection against the violence and incitement is intolerable,” added Uri Regev.

He said that it was “fair to assume” that if the people who disseminated the inciting pamphlets that contained the names and addresses of the people who worked to recruit ultra-Orthodox young men would be arrested and put to trial, “it would create deterrence.”

In an optimistic note, Regev said that the “increasing violence” serves as testimony that the radical ultra-Orthodox were “desperate and aware of their failure. According to data from the military, 2,400 ultra-Orthodox men joined the army last year. Recruitment is becoming a reasonable and possible route in ultra-Orthodox society and the extremists are failing in their struggle.”

The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment into the military has been a point of contention in the Haredi community.

As the army encourages enlistment, with brigades tailored especially for the needs of the ultra-Orthodox troops, the number of Haredim who have opted to serve in the military has been slowly growing in recent years.

But the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community have opposed the trend, and many of the young Haredim who serve in the army choose to keep their service under wraps in fear of their personal security and that of their families.

The Yesh Atid party, led by former finance minister Yair Lapid, made the enlistment of the ultra-Orthodox — or, as the party calls it, “sharing the burden” — a central point in its campaign and, in the previous government, advanced a bill that mandated Haredi service in the military with criminal penalties for those who refused.

The law passed in the Knesset last March, but new elections earlier this year and coalition agreements with the ultra-Orthodox parties put the bill as such into a deep freeze.

Amendments to the legislation, as negotiated in the coalition deals with the ruling Likud, will include the abolition of the penalty clause for those who refuse service.

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