Ultra-Orthodox block Jerusalem roads in protest of draft evader’s arrest
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Ultra-Orthodox block Jerusalem roads in protest of draft evader’s arrest

Police arrest 21 demonstrators as hundreds block traffic and the light rail

An ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem against the military draft on July 2, 2019 (Israel Police)
An ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem against the military draft on July 2, 2019 (Israel Police)

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox hardliners demonstrated in Jerusalem on Tuesday in protest of the arrest of a yeshiva student accused of draft dodging.

The protesters from the so-called Jerusalem Faction blocked the light rail tracks and Sarei Yisrael and Jaffa streets, snarling traffic.

Police officers were at the scene to break up the protest.

Twenty-one people were arrested for disturbing the public order, police said.

The demonstrators were protesting the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox student who failed to show up to a military induction center, according to Hebrew media reports.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men clash with police during a protest against the arrest of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women who failed to comply with a recruitment order, in Jerusalem, June 24, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Many in the ultra-Orthodox community refuse to perform the mandatory military service that applies to most Israelis, and the community has historically enjoyed blanket exemptions from the army in favor of religious seminary studies. In recent years, as the government dallied on legislating a new enlistment law to regulate the exemptions (previous arrangements were struck down by the High Court of Justice as unconstitutional), many hardliners in the community have forgone the formality of showing up at the induction centers for a deferment.

Last week also saw a protest in Jerusalem following the arrest of three women. The young Haredi women were apparently arrested after they failed to inform the Israel Defense Forces that they are religious and therefore can be exempted from service — an option picked by the vast majority of ultra-Orthodox women.

Those arrests led the extremist Edah Hareidit faction to call the protest last Monday, in which young men confronted policemen, burned garbage dumpsters, and intermittently blocked Bar Ilan street.

In recent years, there have been large protests against the Israel Defense Forces draft by an extremist non-Zionist sect, known as the Jerusalem Faction, blocking traffic in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

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