Dozens arrested as haredi protesters shut down Jerusalem roads

Hundreds of anti-draft protesters block roads in the capital, following arrest of haredi draft dodger.

David Rosenberg, | updated: 17:47

Haredi protesters block road in Jerusalem March 7th 2019
Haredi protesters block road in Jerusalem March 7th 2019
Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

More than two dozen haredi protesters were arrested in Jerusalem Thursday afternoon, after hundreds of demonstrators blocked roads in the capital to protest the recent arrest of a haredi draft dodger.

Police reported that some 500 demonstrators had converged on the intersection of Jaffa Road and Shaarei Yisrael Street near the Central Bus Station, not far from an IDF draft office.

Demonstrators gathered to protest the recent arrest of Meir Blau, a young haredi man who refused an order to appear at the IDF draft office.

According to Israel Police, 28 demonstrators have been arrested.

“Israel Police forces are working with determination against the rioters in order to keep the roads and light rail line open, and have thus far arrested 23 demonstrators,” said a police spokesperson, before the number of suspects arrested rose to 28.

Some demonstrators clashed with police, cursing the officers as “Nazis”. “Better to die than enlist,” said some. “Go to jail, not the army,” said other protesters.

The demonstration was organized by the Yerushalmi Faction, a radical haredi movement founded by the late Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach with the goal of winning blanket exemptions for the entire haredi population.

At present, haredi women are exempt from the draft, while men who learn full time in yeshivas are permitted to defer their service on an annual basis every year they remain enrolled in recognized institutions of religious higher learning.

The Yerushalmi Faction, however, has called on its supporters not to cooperate with government draft officials – even for the purposes of obtaining deferments. That policy has placed the Faction outside of the mainstream of the haredi community, and lead to numerous arrests of young men who refuse to register for deferments.

Haredi protesters in Jerusalem March 7th 2019
צילום: אברהם שרייבר/TPS



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