Haredi extremists protested violently in Beit Shemesh on Sunday against the
ongoing detention of a yeshiva student for failing to report for military duty
and the arrest of a second haredi man for the same reason.
It emerged on
Sunday that Mordechai Kennig, aged 18 and a resident of Neveh Ya’acov in
Jerusalem, was arrested last Wednesday and detained at the IDF’s Prison 6, near
Atlit, south of Haifa.
Kennig is a yeshiva student in Kfar Hassidim near
Haifa and adheres to the rulings of hard-line haredi leader Rabbi Shmuel
Auerbach, who has instructed yeshiva students not to present themselves to IDF
enlistment offices when called by the army.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office
would not confirm Kennig’s arrest.
On December 1 a yeshiva student named
Moshe Elashvilli was arrested in Kiryat Malachi for failing to present himself
at an IDF enlistment office.
In response to the continued detention of
Elashvilli, and possibly to the news of Kennig’s arrest, members of extremist
haredi factions resident in Beit Shemesh took to the streets Sunday afternoon to
Several hundred haredi residents attempted to block the main
Nahar Hayarden road in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet.
Police arrived swiftly at
the scene to disperse the protesters, but the confrontation became violent and
four haredim were arrested for attacking policemen and disturbing the peace, the
“This is clearly a continuation of the tensions within
the haredi community over service in the IDF,” said police spokesman Micky
Rosenfeld. “Police are prepared in all haredi neighborhoods to prevent future
The majority of haredi yeshiva students currently report
to IDF enlistment offices when instructed to do so but do not sign any
As a result, several hundred haredi men have received
enlistment dates over the past year but the Defense Ministry has so far canceled
all of them because of pending government legislation on the
However, a small but hardline grouping of the mainstream
non-hassidic haredi community, known as the Jerusalem faction and led by Rabbi
Auerbach, has instructed yeshiva students not to even report to IDF enlistment
offices when called to do so.
It is the refusal to present themselves to
the IDF for preliminary processing that has led the military police to arrest
the two yeshiva students currently detained at Prison 6.
There are in all
likelihood dozens if not hundreds of yeshiva students connected to the Jerusalem
faction or who adhere to Auerbach’s rulings who have refused to go to the
enlistment offices when called.
Although the haredi media reported last
week that the arrest last Sunday of Elashvilli was the first for refusing to
report to the IDF, The Jerusalem Post understands that there have been several
such arrests over the last six months.
As with Elashvilli, those yeshiva
students who are detained are imprisoned by the army for several
Most of them subsequently consent to preliminary processing by the
IDF, although some have continued to refuse and have been sent back to prison
before ultimately agreeing to the first stage of the enlistment
It is unclear why arrests conducted earlier this year did not
lead to the kind of protests being conducted by the hard-line haredi
Yishaiyahu Wein, a senior figure in the Jerusalem faction, said
that the arrest of the two haredi yeshiva students proved that “no power in the
world will succeed in breaking the Torah World.”
“We have survived
persecution for thousands of years. Sadly, this time the persecutors are
our own brothers and flesh and part of the Jewish people, but we will overcome
them as well,” said Wein.
He explained Auerbach’s position on the issue,
saying that the rabbi and his faction “do not recognize any power as able to
determine what yeshiva students should do other than their rabbis.”