Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin NetanyahuFlash 90

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned on Wednesday an assault on an ultra-Orthodox soldier by coreligionists in Jerusalem, vowing a tough line against anyone threatening army personnel.

"We will crack down on anyone who tries to terrorize civilians who are fulfilling their duty to the state," he said, following the incident on Tuesday night, which saw a soldier forced to hide in a building in Mea Shearim after he was confronted with a barrage of stones.

When the police came to rescue him, they too came under an attack of stones thrown by a group of up to 150 people, a spokesman said.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon also denounced the attack, calling it a "despicable and loathsome incident" which needed to be dealt with severely.

"We must not permit such bullying," he said in a statement issued late on Tuesday, which called on leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community "to condemn this violence and act forcefully to uproot this phenomenon."

The assault came as a national debate rages over whether to require the ultra-Orthodox to perform the same compulsory military service carried out by other Israelis.

"The best response to these lawbreakers is to increase the number of ultra-Orthodox conscripts," Netanyahu said, pointing to the government's approval on Sunday of a draft law which would require all ultra-Orthodox men aged 21 and over to sign up for two years of military or civilian service.

The bill, which would allow just 1,800 exemptions for seminary students, must pass three readings in parliament before becoming law.