Amid nationwide unrest among haredim following the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox conscript who refused to be drafted into the IDF, police are heightening security in the capital ahead of a large protest scheduled to take place in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon.
The police response comes after hundreds of haredi men and youths staged violent demonstrations on Sunday night in Bnei Brak, Modi’in Illit, Beit Shemesh, Ashdod and several other locations to demand the release of yeshiva student Eliyahu Cohen.
According to police, hundreds of protesters are scheduled to demonstrate in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim on Wednesday afternoon, making it a potential flash point for violence.
“We will have dozens of officers in the area to ensure no rioting takes place,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Tuesday. “Police are aware of the sensitivity of the issue and will oversee the protest accordingly.”
Cohen, 20, attends the Orhot David yeshiva in Jerusalem, which is associated with the Jerusalem Faction, a breakaway group from the mainstream non-hassidic haredi Degel Hatorah political movement.
In accordance with the instructions of the movement and its spiritual leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, 83, Cohen has repeatedly refused to present himself at IDF recruitment offices after receiving conscription orders.
He is being held in the military’s Prison Six facility, near Atlit, and has reportedly begun a hunger strike.
According to the Committee to Save the Torah World, a body associated with the Jerusalem Faction, Cohen received another conscription order last month, and upon refusing to do so was imprisoned for 20 days.
He was subsequently released and again was ordered to report to the recruitment office to be inducted – an order he refuses.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.