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Israel police and ultra-orthodox Jews clash over conscription

Members of Orthodox Jews protest against compulsory military service in Israel on May 18, 2017 in New York, US [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]
Orthodox Jews protest against compulsory military service in Israel [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli police officers deployed stun grenades and water cannons against hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews protesting against the military draft yesterday night.

Officers used stun grenades and water cannons to disperse the protesters after normal crowd control methods failed, reported the Times of Israel.

It’s reported that the protest was sparked after rumours began to spread over the arrest of a young woman for draft-dodging in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Har Nof.

The riot began with a few dozen men who began throwing projectiles at cars, Israeli sources reported. Horse-mounted police tried to control the crowd, which quickly grew to several hundred. Several of the rioters were reportedly injured during the demonstration.

Read: Israeli government approves controversial conscription bill

Police spokesman Micky Ronsenfeld said: “Police units in Jerusalem dispersed an ultra-religious illegal demonstration with stun grenades after four police officers were injured lightly.”

Yesterday’s clash comes on the back of ongoing tensions between the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and Israeli state officials. In March Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced the prospect of the imminent collapse of his ruling coalition over a row concerning ultra-Orthodox military conscription.

In February, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties held the government to ransom by warning they may not vote for the budget law if the government did not vote on a bill to exempt Haredim from compulsory recruitment.

In previous demonstrations Orthodox Jews closed off Jerusalem streets in protest against military conscription.

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