The attack on an ultra- Orthodox soldier by a haredi mob on Tuesday continued to
evoke strong political condemnation from several quarters in the aftermath of
Approximately 100 haredi men threatened and chased a haredi
soldier in uniform.
The police managed to rescue the soldier before he
was harmed but a low-level riot broke out when the mob confronted the
Religious Services Minister and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali
Bennett said the incident was extremely serious.
“Anyone who dares harm
our soldiers will be severely punished, full stop,” said Bennett.
Bayit Yehudi leader also warned that blaming the entire haredi community would
not be fair.
“It would be no less dangerous to attack haredi society as a
whole, when it’s clear that we’re talking about a particularly radical group,”
Bennett wrote on his Facebook page. “This generalization is dangerous, friends,
we’ve gone too far.”
Shas chairman Arye Deri, who condemned the attack in
a statement on Tuesday night – and is the only haredi politician to do so thus
far – took to the airwaves to repeat his condemnation, but insisted it was
carried out by delinquent youth and that the mainstream haredi society was being
unfairly blamed for the incident.
“I condemn the phenomenon in the
strongest terms full stop, without excuses of any kind,” said Deri in an
interview with Army Radio on Wednesday morning. He also condemned the ongoing
publicity campaign being conducted by extremist haredi elements against haredi
Yet Deri added that recent political events could not be
ignored in relation to attacks against haredi soldiers and protested the
atmosphere that has arisen around the Peri bill, drawn up by the government to
draft haredi men into military service.
“There is no doubt that none of
us encourage this and everyone condemns such violence. But when you turn
ideological issues such as academic studies, core curriculum studies, the army,
into matters of coercion and cultural war, don’t be surprised if you start
seeing a cultural war like unfortunately we’re seeing now.
“There is a
process of understanding, integration and discussion which has been going on for
years, yes very slowly, but it is continuing and catching on and succeeding.
There has been growing integration in hitech, the workforce, and the army.
Unfortunately some people come [to make] political profit of one type or another
and who are turning it into a cultural war and a political battle and into who
can be victorious over who.”
MK Omer Bar-Lev of Labor, the chairman of
the Knesset subcommittee for Human Resources in the Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee, also denounced the incident but said that haredi integration into the
army should be encouraged by increasing the number of IDF tracks for haredim and
not through coercive measures.
“This dangerous social phenomenon [of
attacks against haredi soldiers] needs to be stopped through a decision to
encourage enlistment by increasing the opportunities and tracks for haredim and
integrating [them] into society, but not through threats, coercion and
demagoguery like the government is currently attempting to do,” Bar-Lev said in
a statement to the media on Tuesday night.
He also called on the police
and the IDF to assist haredi soldiers and to prosecute those arrested for the
attack on Tuesday night.
So far, none of the MKs from the Ashkenazi
haredi party United Torah Judaism have commented on the incident.
the main haredi daily newspapers had any mention of the attack although the
incident was front and center in the haredi online press.
Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch addressed the incident in the Knesset on Wednesday
morning and said the police would request that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court
extend the remand of the four men arrested during the attack on Tuesday night,
and that indictments would shortly be served.
Aharonovitch said that
there had been five recent attacks against haredi soldiers in recent days and
that there were dozens of similar incidents that are not formally
“This is a serious and difficult phenomenon [but] we will act
with zero tolerance,” the minister said. He added that he had spoken with
Finance Minister Yair Lapid about the problem and that the Treasury would help
the Jerusalem Police to increase its personnel.
Like Bennett and Deri,
Aharonovitch argued that attacks are carried out by “a handful of lawbreakers
and criminals who do not represent the haredi public.”