Ultra-Orthodox protesters clash with police over arrested draftee

Three detained as demonstrators throw stones, try to block road outside Jerusalem IDF recruitment office

Several dozen ultra-Orthodox protesters clashed with police Sunday as they demonstrated outside the Jerusalem army recruitment office against the arrest of a yeshiva student who failed to show up for his enlistment.

Protesters gathered outside the recruitment office on Rashi Street and some threw rocks at police or tried to block the road.

Police cleared the protesters from the the road and three demonstrators were held. There were no injuries to security forces.

The arrested yeshiva student, a 23-year-old from Jerusalem who planned to get married in two weeks, claims he didn’t turn up for his induction date a month ago because he didn’t get a notification in the mail, the Hebrew-language Ynet website reported.

Later on Sunday evening, Haredi protesters in Jerusalem blocked off the Mea Shearim neighborhood, while demonstrators in Beit Shemesh pushed dumpsters into the street, blocking traffic, and hurled stones at police officers.

Last Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh torched dumpsters and threw rocks at police officers in protest against the same arrest. Seven were detained in the capital and one in Beit Shemesh.

Many in the ultra-Orthodox (“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.

Police have sporadically detained ultra-Orthodox draft-dodgers in the past year.

In July, five Haredi demonstrators protesting the IDF draft outside a Jaffa courthouse were arrested. At the end of the mostly peaceful protest, some of the demonstrators attacked policemen, overturned garbage cans, blocked traffic, hurled eggs and stones at cops, and flipped over two motorcycles, damaging them, police said at the time. There were no reports of injuries.

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.

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

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