Thousands of haredi demonstrators blocked traffic at Shabbat Square, a major intersection at the entrance to the Meah Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem, in protest against the arrest of two haredi draft dodgers Thursday.
Sections of the city's light rail train were also blocked, and there was no train service on the route through the center of town between the Central Bus Station and the Damascus Gate stop near the Old City.
Protest organizers claim the draft dodgers arrested this week were being persecuted for "the crime of studying Torah."
"The state wants to silence all the Jews who want to study Torah," one protester old AFP. "Lately they have seen the haredi population growing, so they want us to serve in the army and be absorbed into the general population."
The extremist Yerushalmi Faction (Jerusalem Faction) called for a day of rage over the arrests of the draft dodgers. Dozens of demonstrators have been arrested in multiple protests this week. Demonstrators from the Jerusalem Faction blocked another major intersection by the city of Modiin Thursday morning.
Last night, six protesters who attempted to prevent a prison vehicle from transferring draft-dodgers to the military police were arrested in Jerusalem, while 3 protesters in Ma'ale Adumim who refused a police request to clear the road were arrested.
On Tuesday, 40 demonstrators from the Jerusalem Faction were arrested in Bnei Brak after several of them attacked police and rioted in the street.
By law, every Israeli must register with the IDF, but if a male recruit brings a letter signed by his yeshiva head attesting to his full time Torah study, he is eligibile for an unlimited deferral. The Jerusalem Faction, possibly because they fear the new law being drafted after the Supreme Court invalidated the previous draft law, is against the act of registration.