Hundreds of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews protested in Jerusalem yesterday against the army draft, facing down police officers deploying water cannons spraying “skunk water” against demonstrators.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the protesters “caused a massive shut down of public transportation”, following the arrest of a young haredi man who refused to enlist in the military.
A police spokesperson reported that there were 38 arrests made at the protest.
According to reports, the demonstration was organised by the Yerushalmi Faction, who demands “that all haredim be granted a blanket draft exemption”, as opposed to the case-by-case draft deferment currently offered by the military to most full-time yeshiva students.
Thus, “the Yerushalmi Faction has called on supporters not to cooperate with draft authorities for any purpose whatsoever, including for draft exemptions.”
One protester told the Post: “The Israeli government wants to limit and slowly, slowly at some point…completely stop the Orthodox boys who study in yeshiva…so we’re fighting in full force.”
“Our rabbi who passed away about two years ago said any time a yeshiva boy is arrested, we come out to protest full force.”