MK David Azoulay (Shas) called on the IDF to be gentler with yeshiva (Torah academy) students who are guilty of draft-dodging Thursday, in light of the violent protests in Jerusalem against the yeshiva students' arrests.
"You take a guy in yeshiva straight to jail, a man without a criminal record, who enters prison under harsh conditions - these people go through a crisis," said MK Azoulay to Arutz Sheva Thursday.
"The army has to consider that there has never been a situation like this, where someone could report to an Army office or a police station and then immediately find himself in jail," he reasoned. "[They] should take it seriously and deal sensibly with the issue. It is very easy to put a man in jail, but it will not cause him to be a better citizen."
MK Azoulay related that this is not the first time yeshiva students have been arrested. "It's certainly not the first case, there have been several cases of yeshiva students imprisoned - some for two weeks, some three, some of them were tried and some were pardoned," he stated. "I think the army should take them seriously and treat yeshiva students with more respect."
Earlier Thursday, violent protests erupted in the Mea Shearim neighborhood against the continued imprisonment of 19-year-old Moshe Eleshvili, a yeshiva student who has been held for several days for dodging the draft. Several of the protesters in Jerusalem threw rocks at police forces and set fire to trash cans in the ensuing chaos.
Efforts to arrest draft-dodgers have stepped up considerably since the late 2012 expiration of the Tal Law, which allowed exemptions for full-time yeshiva students, and have prompted the drafting of the Equal Burden of Service bill. That bill proposes tough sanctions on hareidi-religious draft-dodgers, which some MKs and religious leaders insist is a case of discrimination against that sector of Israeli society.