Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox hardliners demonstrated and blocked roads in Jerusalem on Monday evening in protest of the arrest of three women accused of draft dodging.
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 Chareidis faction to call the protest, in which young men confronted policemen, burned garbage dumpsters, and intermittently blocked Bar Ilan street.
Police prevented the demonstrators from blocking the road continuously and arrested seven people.
A reporter for a local newspaper said he and three photographers were beaten by cops during the protest.
Addressing police’s Jerusalem district chief Doron Yadid, Liran Tamari of Yedioth Jerusalem tweeted: “It is time that some of the Jerusalem district policemen learn that journalists aren’t enemies.”
In recent years, there have been several 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.
Many in the ultra-Orthodox community shun 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.
Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman, whose feud with the ultra-Orthodox Knesset parties over Haredi enlistment to the army last month thwarted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to form a coalition and led the country to new elections, accused the protesters of trying to build a “state inside the State of Israel.”
That attempt “threatens the very fabric of the entire Israeli society,” Liberman said in a statement.
“That is the reason we demanded and will demand in the future to pass the enlistment law as is,” he added, repeating his key demand regarding a bill regulating the enlistment of seminary students, but which is a non-starter for the ultra-Orthodox parties.
He also demanded a “heavy hand against the rioters and mainly against those who incite and support and fund them.”