Haredi radicals protest detention of yeshiva students outside IDF prison

December 9, 2013 19:18

Protesters say they are willing to “give up their lives” for the struggle against haredi enlistment to the army.

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Haredim protest the arrest of a yeshiva student for evading IDF service.

Haredi protest arrest of yeshiva student 370. (photo credit: Yisrael Cohen/Kikar HaShabbat)

Several hundred haredi men from radical factions within the ultra-Orthodox community demonstrated outside the IDF’s Prison 6 in Atlit Monday morning in protest at the ongoing detention of two yeshiva students who were arrested for failing to report for military duty.

The protest was organized by the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit communal organization, while members of radical hassidic group Toldot Aharon also participated, as well as members of the haredi community associated with hard-line leader Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.

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The seniormost rabbi of the Eda, Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weis, 87, was in attendance at the protests, as was his deputy, Rabbi Moshe Shternboch, also 87, along with the Grand Rabbi of Toldot Aharon, David Kahn, and several other senior rabbis.

Despite their requests, the rabbis from the Eda were not permitted to visit the two detainees, which generated considerable consternation among the protesters, although the demonstration remained nonviolent.

Protestors held up signs saying “We will all go to prison” and declaring their willingness to “give up their lives” for the struggle against haredi enlistment to the army.

One sign held aloft by a demonstrator read “Behold I am ready and willing to give up my life and to rot in jail [in order] not to go to the impure army.”

Two haredi yeshiva students were arrested last week for failing to present themselves to IDF enlistment offices when ordered to do so. Both of them decided not to report for service in accordance with the ruling of Auerbach, unlike the majority of haredi yeshiva students who do currently report to IDF enlistment offices when ordered to do so, as instructed by mainstream haredi leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman.

The arrests have led to a spate of demonstrations in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and outside Prison 6 next to Atlit conducted by more radical elements of the haredi community.

A government bill to increase haredi enlistment is being reviewed in a special Knesset committee at the moment, and the panel members are expected to vote on the central components of the legislation in the coming weeks.

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