Thousands of haredim are gathered this evening, Tuesday, on Jerusalem’s Malchei Yisrael Street, the main street connecting the haredi neighborhoods in central Jerusalem, for a protest defined as “the protest of thousands” against “the decree of the draft.”
The background for the protest is a number of arrests of haredi youth who did not show up to the draft office and were defined, as a result, as “deserters” by the IDF.
In addition to the central group of protesters on Malchei Yisrael Street, which has been closed to traffic, additional protesters are engaged in confrontations with police on Sarei Yisrael Street at the edges of the haredi neighborhoods, where they are intermittently blocking the Street.
The demonstration this evening is the first significant joint effort between members of the “Edah Haharedit,” an extremist haredi group cut off from the State and its institutions since the State’s founding, and the “Jerusalem Faction,” a haredi group which, after the death of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, broke off from the central stream of the Lithuanian haredi sector and functions under the leadership of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.
One of the speakers at the demonstration compared the State of Israel to the host of enemies of the Jewish people throughout the generations. “The first Prime Minister of Israel, whose name it is forbidden to mention, may his name and memory be erased, said that within 20 years there wouldn’t be a shtreimel [fur hat worn by some haredi men] here, and we are here today and this is our revenge. We will fill the jails. They won’t scare us,” he said. “We got past Pharaoh, we got passed the Spanish Inquisition, we got past Hitler, we’ll get past you, too.”