Haredi protest in Bnei Brak, March 22, 2018.
(photo credit: COMMITTEE FOR SAVING THE TORAH WORLD)
At least 28 protesters from the radical haredi Jerusalem Faction were arrested during a demonstration in Bnei Brak on Thursday against the detention of a yeshiva student associated with the community.
The student in question was arrested several weeks ago and detained by military police for having failed to cooperate with the IDF in order to obtain his military service exemption.
On Wednesday, his detention was extended from 20 days to 45 days, which led the Jerusalem Faction’s rabbinical leadership, known as the Council of Sages of the Torah World, to declare fresh protests for Thursday.
Unlike in recent demonstrations, the police moved swiftly to disperse protesters blocking a central junction in Bnei Brak, and arrested at least 28 of them for various offenses, including throwing stones and disturbing the public order.
The demonstrators did, however, succeed in blocking parts of the main Jabotinsky Street in Bnei Brak for a significant period of time.
The Committee to Save the Torah World, the Jerusalem Faction’s operations arms for demonstrations, issued a statement during the protests saying that its message was “No to haredim in the IDF,” and that “The entire haredi community opposes this, and we will continue to fly the flag of the struggle against spiritual destruction with self-sacrifice.”
It noted that thousands of yeshiva students associated with the Jerusalem Faction have refused to cooperate with the IDF to obtain their military service exemptions and that demonstrations would be staged for every one of them that is arrested.
The overwhelming majority of haredi yeshiva students obtain their military service exemptions by undergoing a bureaucratic process at IDF enlistment offices. Students from the Jerusalem Faction refuse to even do this, and are therefore technically absent without leave and liable to arrest by the military police.
When such students are arrested, the Jerusalem Faction frequently stages demonstrations against their detainment, during which more students who are absent without leave are also arrested, perpetuating the cycle.
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