Police arrested 28 suspects in a pre-dawn raid early Tuesday morning in a crackdown against the haredi anti-draft group known as the Yerushalmi Faction.
The Yerushalmi Faction, led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has had mass demonstrations and blocked roads across the country to protest the draft of yeshiva students into the IDF. Unlike mainstream haredi groups, the Yerushalmi Faction discourages its members from seeking deferments from the army as yeshiva students, arguing that such behavior legitimizes the existing draft law.
Among the 28 suspects arrested Tuesday are senior members of the Hapeles newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Yerushalmi Faction.
Police say the suspects allegedly attempted to extort businesses, harassing and threatening company officials with ultimatums to advertise in Hapeles, warning that the failure to do so would be seen as an insult to a large segment of the haredi population and would have serious consequences. The harassment of the targeted officials was reportedly ongoing on a daily basis.
Tuesday’s operation also included searches of offices maintained by Hapeles.
The arrestees included residents of Jerusalem, Modiin Illit, Bnei Brak, Ashdod, Rechasim, and Hadera.
During the arrests of suspects in Bnei Brak, some locals clashed with police, hurling stones and other objects at officers.