WATCH: Haredim protest, block traffic around country over arrest of 4 yeshiva students

Protestors are picketing in support of four yeshiva students arrested for refusing to report to IDF draft offices.

February 2, 2015 10:11
2 minute read.

Haredim riots in Ashdod

Haredim riots in Ashdod

Hundreds of haredi men and youths took to major roads and intersections Monday morning to protest the arrests of four yeshiva students for failing to report to IDF offices for preliminary conscription processing.

The four were arrested last Monday and the radical faction to which they belong staged protests around the country demanding their release.

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Protests were staged in or close to Jerusalem, Ashdod, the Bar-Ilan interchange and other locations in which the demonstrators tried to block traffic arteries, resulting in heavy traffic on some routes.

According to police spokesman Ch.-Insp. Micky Rosenfeld, by 5 p.m. a total of 46 haredi protesters had been arrested throughout the country for rioting, blocking major intersections and attacking police officers.

Rosenfeld said the majority of arrests took place in Ashdod, where 40 haredi demonstrators were taken into custody, and one officer was lightly wounded after he was struck in the face with a metal bar.

“Police units used water cannons and mounted officers to contain the disturbances, and none of the protesters was injured,” he said of the violence in the coastal city.

In Jerusalem, Rosenfeld said two haredi men were arrested during the morning hours for blocking traffic on Bar-Ilan Street, but that disturbances in the capital were quickly contained and no injuries were reported.

In Bnei Brak, he added, police arrested four protesters for attacking officers and blocking major roadways, with no injuries reported.

“Police units from different districts responded as the protests developed, and arrests were made accordingly,” he said. “The situation was dealt with relatively quickly and none of the protesters was injured.”

Meanwhile, Rosenfeld said police are continuing to monitor flashpoint regions throughout the country to ensure order is restored.

“Security assessments continue to be made and units will continue to patrol areas where disturbances took place to ensure no more incidents take place,” he said.

The protesters belong to a radical but small faction of the non-hassidic haredi community and reject the mainstream leadership headed by Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman – following the instructions of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach instead.

Unlike Shteinman, Auerbach has instructed yeshiva students not to present themselves for preliminary processing for IDF conscription.

Most yeshiva students belonging to the mainstream haredi community are able to do the preliminary processing and for the moment gain military service exemptions.

Government legislation passed last year was designed to gradually increase haredi conscription and decrease the number of exemptions, and for this reason Auerbach has instructed yeshiva students loyal to his faction not to cooperate at all with the IDF – not even to report for preliminary processing.

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