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Two arrested for harassing ultra-Orthodox IDF draftees

Men suspected of encouraging violence against Haredi soldiers, publicizing their identities

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the military draft in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, December 22, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest against the military draft in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, December 22, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jerusalem police arrested two men on Tuesday morning for allegedly harassing ultra-Orthodox men who are drafted into the IDF, as well as those involved in helping the recruits.

The suspects are accused of violating privacy laws and insulting public servants in the performance of their duty, police said in a statement.

According to authorities, the men have incited against draftees and publicized their names and contact details in a suspected effort to encourage violence against them or their families.

Many in the Haredi community shun the mandatory national service that applies to most Israelis, and the community has historically enjoyed blanket exemptions from the army in favor of religious seminary studies.

Reforms passed in the Knesset in 2014 that sought to do away with the exemptions and gradually increase ultra-Orthodox recruitment met fierce opposition from many in the community.

Illustrative: A poster in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem depicting Haredi soldiers rolling through the streets atop tanks trying to lure young boys onto their vehicles. The ad denounces the soldiers as Zionist "ambassadors" and "missionaries," Sunday, July 14, 2013. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)
Illustrative: A poster in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem depicting Haredi soldiers rolling through the streets atop tanks trying to lure young boys onto their vehicles. The ad denounces the soldiers as Zionist “ambassadors” and “missionaries,” Sunday, July 14, 2013. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

In December, thousands of Haredi protesters demonstrated against the draft. Several protesters clashed with police, who in turn sprayed tear gas at the rioters.

Rabbinic leaders of the community view military service as a threat to their way of life.

A number of ultra-Orthodox recruits have been disowned by their families and ultra-Orthodox soldiers often complain of harassment and violence by community members.

In late November, the Knesset approved an amendment to the Equal Service Law that dramatically rolled back the 2014 reforms and scrapped collective penalties imposed if annual quotas for ultra-Orthodox draftees were not met.

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