Haredi soldier (illustrative)
Haredi soldier (illustrative) Yaakov Naumi - Flash90

After years of harassment, threats, and even physical violence against haredi soldiers, the Knesset is pushing forward new legislation to clamp down on fringe religious groups.

On Wednesday the Knesset approved the preliminary reading of a bill that would punish anti-enlistment inciters with five year prison sentences.

The bill, proposed by Yoav Kish (Likud) targets radical haredi elements involved in the so-called “Hardak” campaign, which has targeted haredi soldiers, stigmatizing them as heretics and encouraging violent attacks on their property and persons.

Just over a week ago, a haredi soldier and his small son were attacked by stone-throwers near a yeshiva in Ashdod. In February, a mob in Ashdod attacked military police.

Fringe elements in the haredi community have held numerous demonstrations condemning haredi soldiers, often depicting them in dehumanizing terms.

If passed, the new law would jail anyone found guilty of inciting against army service or those who serve, as well as anyone who uses “armed force” against soldiers or prospective inductees.

The bill passed the initial reading with 27 votes in favor, 12 against. It now moves on to committee.