A young haredi woman received a most unwelcome surprise last Thursday, when a planned summer trip to Spain was derailed at the airport by a simple bureaucratic error – one which turned her vacation dream into a nightmare.
The 20-year old resident of Elad arrived at Ben Gurion airport on Thursday with her friends for what was supposed to be a trip to Barcelona.
The young woman’s troubles began, however, at the check-in. Rather than be quickly approved and allowed to board her flight, the woman was called in for questioning before being handed over to military police, BeHadrei Haredim has reported.
After her arrest, the woman was transferred to Prison Four, a military jail in the IDF’s Tzrifin base. On Friday morning the woman was brought in front of a military judge and, thanks to the efforts of her attorney, was released to house arrest for Shabbat.
During the process, the woman learned she had been marked as a draft-dodger by the army, and had an open arrest warrant– for the past two years.
While Orthodox women, like Druze women and Arab men and women alike are exempted from service in the army, they must provide a declaration to the effect that they are indeed religiously observant.
When the young woman received her initial draft notice at age 16 and a half, she sent in the required declaration, which was in fact faxed in along with those of her schoolmates. Yet somehow, apparently due to a clerical error, her declaration was never entered into the system, and she was eventually registered as a draft dodger.
This despite the fact that, as her attorney, Sagi Greenfeld, noted, she had already provided the declaration a second time after a recruitment office notified her that her draft was still in effect.
After the initial hearing in which the woman was released to house arrest on bail, the terms of her arrest were later lessened even further to an “open arrest”.
On Monday, however, after an additional hearing, the army prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges against the young woman, who was then released with no conditions. The draft order was also nullified.