J'lem: 5,000 haredim protest service exemption changes

June 25, 2012 08:21


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Some 5,000 haredi protesters convened in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood early on Monday morning to demonstrate against the government's efforts to enlist ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students into the IDF and National Service.

The protest came as the Keshev Committee, tasked with with drawing up a proposal for recruiting more ultra-Orthodox men into service, was nearing an end to its deliberations. The committee, headed by Kadima Mk Yochanan Plesner, was mandated by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to draft a replacement for the Tal Law, which provides a legal framework for haredi men to indefinitely defer military service to pursue Torah studies. The Tal Law was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court of Justice in February and will expire on August 1.

Monday morning's demonstration employed the symbols of mourning as a way of expressing displeasure with the impending change in government policy on haredi enlistment. Protesters donned sack clothes  and smeared ash on their heads as part of the demonstration.

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