Strictly-Orthodox arrested in protests against conscription

By Charlotte Oliver, December 11, 2013
A previous Mea Shearim protest earlier this year in Jerusalem (Photo: Uri Lenz)

A previous Mea Shearim protest earlier this year in Jerusalem (Photo: Uri Lenz)

At least 11 people from Israel's Charedi community were arrested last night, after protests broke out against the detention of two strictly-Orthodox men who refused enlistment into the army.

More than 300 people from the strictly-Orthodox Mea Shearim community took to the streets of Jerusalem to demonstrate against the arrests - and the conscription of religious Jews in general.

The detained men, who are 18- and 19-year-old yeshivah students, were arrested last week after ignoring their summons to the IDF enlistment offices. They are both being held in the army's Prison 6 outside Haifa.

Protesters brandished placards calling conscription "forced genocide" that "betrays our faith".

Another sign read: "We are Jews and not Zionists, so therefore will not enlist to the Zionist army".

Up until July 2012, strictly-Orthodox citizens were exempt from military service - but the law was rescinded last year awaiting further legislation.

Leading Charedi rabbis are now instructing their community to ignore call-ups to the IDF and take a hard line against conscription.

Last night's demonstration is the third to break out in a week, following a protest outside the Atlit prison near Haifa on Wednesday, and another in Ramat Beit Shemesh on Sunday.

Last updated: 9:25am, December 11 2013