False rumors spark 24-hour protests by Haredim outside IDF draft office

The demonstrators threw stones, eggs, and other items at the police as they tried to control the demonstrations and remove protestors from the roads.

November 28, 2017 17:09
2 minute read.
A Haredi boy blocks the exit at the IDF's Jerusalem recruiting office, November 2017

A Haredi boy blocks the exit at the IDF's Jerusalem recruiting office, November 2017. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

An apparently spurious rumor about two young Haredi women who extremists claimed had been detained in the IDF enlistment office led to 24 hours of intense protests and violent disturbances over Monday night and throughout Tuesday.

The rumor was eventually proved to be groundless and by Tuesday evening the protesters had dispersed.

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At least 18 protesters were arrested during the protests, and police deployed two mounted police as well as water cannons firing skunk water in order to disperse the demonstrators.

According to an Eda Haredit representative who spoke to The Jerusalem Post, female members of an anti-enlistment “watch-guard,” who stand outside the enlistment offices every day, saw two young Haredi women walk into the enlistment offices on Monday afternoon at 15:30 but did not see them leave.

Subsequently, two men from a separate anti-enlistment “watch-guard” said they saw guards inside the enlistment offices preventing a woman from leaving.

The Eda and the radical Jerusalem Faction claim that IDF officials try to convince or coerce Haredi men seeking to obtain a military service exemption into enlisting, and therefore post watch-guards at the enlistment offices to help them avoid such a fate.

Recent requirements that some women physically report to enlistment offices to get their permit, instead of simply sending in documentation to obtain it, has resulted in the Eda deploying female watchguards too.

Both watch-guards said that they had not seen the two women who entered at 15:30 leave during the course of Monday.

The IDF had said it was unable to verify or refute the allegations since no details whatsoever as to the identity of the two young women supposedly held by the IDF enlistment office have been provided.

Because of these claims, dozens if not hundreds of men from the Eda Haredi organization began protesting outside the enlistment offices on Monday night and throughout Tuesday, blocking the roads.

The demonstrators threw stones, eggs, and other items at the police as they tried to control the demonstrations and remove protesters from the roads, calling the police personnel “Nazis” and “shiksas,” a derogatory term for non-Jewish women.

Large numbers of police personnel were deployed to deal with the protests and physically battled with the Eda protesters as well as with members from the Jerusalem Faction, another radical Haredi group, physically dragging many of them away from the scene.

Eventually, an agreement was reached between Eda officials and the IDF in which Eda representatives were allowed to search the entire enlistment office building to look for the women.

Having searched the building and not found any detained Haredi women, Eda called off the protest and all the demonstrators dispersed.

The police stated that three policemen had been injured – one by a glass bottle, one by a stone, and one after being punched.

Footage distributed by the Haredi protesters showed at least one demonstrator who appeared to be injured during the protests, although Magen David Adom did not report having treated any injuries during the protests.

The protests come against the background of a long series of demonstrations and illegal disturbances staged by the Jerusalem Faction against IDF enlistment and, more recently, the relatively lengthy periods of detention received by yeshiva students associated with the group who failed to carry out the necessary bureaucratic procedures to obtain their military service exemption.

Some of these yeshiva students have been sentenced to as much as 90 days in military prison for failing to report to the IDF when instructed.

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