Zionist-Hesder yeshivas demand court reverse order on subsidies for IDF draft dodgers

Eleven indicted Haredi protesters arrested during protests last week, released after state loses appeal

February 9, 2014 19:07
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A group of mostly religious- Zionist yeshivot on Sunday filed a motion with the High Court of Justice demanding that it reverse its interim order issued last week negating subsidies relating to students who do not respond to their draft notice.

The High Court’s order last week, though only an interim order, ignited a public war of words and protests by finally taking at least partial action against haredi (ultra-Orthodox) yeshiva students who have been ignoring their draft notices since their exemption from military service under the Tal Law expired in August 2012.

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The majority of religious-Zionist yeshiva students – like those of the hesder program, which combines years of Torah study and military service – were not impacted by the court’s order, since they undertake military service.

However, a significant minority of those students enroll in special tracks, and these tracks have lost their subsidies under the court’s interim order.

For example, many students enroll in religious-Zionist “mechina” programs, or programs that are often a one-year preparatory program for students with weaker Jewish studies backgrounds or who simply have not decided whether to do hesder or regular army service.

The motion said that students in these and other programs have lost their subsidies under the interim order even though they and their institutions were not part of the extensive court proceedings, most of which were focused on the haredi issue.

Quoting statistics showing higher levels of military service among religious-Zionist students than in the general population, and in particular a much higher percentage joining combat units and moving on to officers’ tracks, the motion said that the court must return the subsidies to these parties, join them into the case and then grant them their day in court – which they say they have not received.

Meanwhile, the state on Sunday appealed the release of 11 haredi protesters who had been arrested during protests at the end of last week.

The releases had been ordered by the Ashdod Magistrate’s Court over the weekend despite the fact that indictments were filed against them.

Within hours the Beersheba District Court rejected the appeal, stating that although the crimes committed against the Ashdod police during the haredi protests last weekend included actions that might have justified keeping them in police custody during their trials, the 11 defendants did not stand accused of the worst specific crimes.

For example, while it was clear that police had been physically assaulted and police property, including police cars, purposely vandalized, and it was clear that the 11 defendants were part of the protests, the indictments against these 11 defendants did not include the worst actions attributed to the protesters.

Their releases were further punctuated by fights between the Ashdod Magistrate’s Court and the defendants’ lawyers, in which the judge said he had to leave the court room because of disorder of the lawyers and the defendants’ supporters and had to place limits on the number of supporters allowed in the room.

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