An American member of the extremist Yerushalmi Faction (Jerusalem Faction) has been released from the IDF's Prison 4.
Cleveland native Aharon Bialah had been arrested for draft dodging at Ben Gurion airport as he returned to his family in the United States. Bialah's arrest caused the Jerusalem Faction to block traffic at major arteries all over Israel in order to pressure the IDF to release him before the Passover holiday.
After major demonstrations wreaked havoc in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, the IDF agreed to release Bialah for the first day of Passover. According to the Kikar Hashabbat website, heavy pressure was applied on the government by senior US rabbis and the US embassy.
On Thursday Bialah was released from prison and returned to a hero's welcome arranged by the Jerusalem Faction. Bialah merited a personal audience with top Jerusalem Faction luminaries and a festive celebration will be held on Thursday evening in Modiin Illit in his honor.
The Jerusalem Faction, which was founded by the late Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has demanded the IDF issue blanket exemptions to all haredi men, and has rejected the present system, under which full-time yeshiva students are granted draft deferments, renewable each year.