Ultra-Orthodox rioters clash with police in Ashdod

Military cops need to be rescued as anti-IDF draft protest turns violent; cars overturned, damaged by stone-throwers; 3 attempts to arrests fail

Ultra-Orthodox protesters attacked military police and overturned a cruiser as an anti-military draft protest in Ashdod turned violent.

There were no injuries reported in the riot, which took place in the overnight hours between Monday and Tuesday.

According to Kikar HaShabat, a Haredi website, the police had arrived overnight to arrest an ultra-Orthodox man who failed to show up at an army induction center to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces.

Police said they were met with dozens of demonstrators, some of whom flipped over a military vehicle and stoned other cars, damaging them.

“A large number of Israel Police forces were deployed to the scene to extract the military policemen while dispersing the crowd,” a statement from the police said.

“The police view this incident with the utmost severity, and will use all the means at their disposal to locate those involved and bring them to justice,” it said.

The police statement did not report any injuries, or specify the background for the incident.

Ultra-Orthodox news reports said that the incident was one of three attempted arrests, two of which were in Jerusalem, and all of which ended with no one taken into custody.

In the Givat Mordechai neighborhood of the capital, police arrived at the house of one draft-dodger, only to find the man was not home. In Givat Shaul, an arrest was thwarted by protesters who blocked police, around 4 a.m. on Tuesday, a report said.

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.

Police have sporadically detained ultra-Orthodox draft-dodgers in the past several months. The new policy of drafting ultra-Orthodox has sparked a number of riots and large rallies.

On January 26, Jerusalem police arrested six ultra-Orthodox men demonstrating in the capital against the detention of Haredi draft dodgers. The protesters blocked roads in the Mea Shearim neighborhood before police came and removed them. The demonstration was centered on the arrests of two ultra-Orthodox men who failed to show up at the army induction center to enlist, the police said.

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

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