A Haredi Jewish man who was marked with a number .
(photo credit: COMMITTEE FOR SAVING THE TORAH WORLD)
More than two dozen haredi (ultra-Orthodox) demonstrators detained by police for various misdemeanors during riots last week got numbers written on their hands after refusing to identify themselves to the court.
A total of 120 protesters were arrested on Thursday during demonstrations against the detainment of haredi yeshiva students by the Military Police for failing to perform the bureaucratic requirements for obtaining military service exemptions.
Twenty-seven detainees refused to identify themselves and were held in detention until Sunday, with the police marking their hands with numbers for reference purposes until the detainees agreed to reveal their identities in order to be released.
The students in question were associated with the Jerusalem Faction, which for reasons of internal politics within the haredi world, were forbidden from cooperating in any way with the IDF and the Defense Ministry.
Throughout Thursday, protesters from the extremist group blocked main roads in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Safed and Bnei Brak.
Some 90 detainees were released with restrictions on Friday, while the 27 who refused to identify themselves were released on Sunday. Some of those detained, however, were handed over to the Military Police after it was discovered that they also failed to apply for military service exemptions, legally rendering them deserters.
Haim Epstein, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and head of the Bnei Torah Party, the political arm of the Jerusalem Faction in the capital’s municipal council, described the incident as “horrific” and “the ugly side” of the Israel Police.
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“This reminds us of times we thought would not return,” Epstein said. “I don’t know who decided this, but it is clear that it is not someone whose family experienced the Holocaust.”
The police noted that refusing to identify oneself to the courts is a crime and that the legal process necessitates police to identify those who have broken the law in order to compile evidence and to formulate the case against the accused.
“Therefore, the investigators were forced to count the detainees in a way that would enable them to be monitored,” a police spokeswoman said.
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