Thousands turn out for hardline haredi rally for release of Yeshiva students from prison refusing to enlist..
(photo credit: MOSHE BEN NAIM/NEWS 24)
Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men and women took to the streets of Jerusalem Monday night in scenes reminiscent of a carnival, albeit a haredi one, to celebrate the release of four yeshiva students from military prison.
The Jerusalem Faction, a hardline and frequently violent minority group in the non-hassidic haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community, staged the celebration for the yeshiva students who were arrested for refusing to report to IDF enlistment offices when called to do so.
Yeshiva students sang and danced while joyful Jewish music blared out from massive speakers along the length of the route down which the participants marched.
A significant amount of participants in the rally came from the Eda Haredit, a haredi community largely based in Jerusalem that is not related to the Jerusalem Faction.
The rally was approved by the Jerusalem Police and large sections of Bar Ilan Street and other thoroughfares were closed to traffic.
Rallies staged by the Jerusalem Faction frequently turn violent at the close but there was no violence by time of press.
The four young men who were feted at the rally, Naftali Rishi, Eliyahu Goldberg, Haim David Halva and Shlomo Zalman Miller, were arrested by military police last month.
They are all associated with the Jerusalem Faction, which is headed by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, who opposes any cooperation with the government over the issue of haredi enlistment to the army.
Auerbach has instructed yeshiva students associated with his faction not to present themselves for preliminary procedures at IDF enlistment offices, even though this renders them liable to arrest by military police for draft evasion.
The mainstream non-hassidic and hassidic haredi leaders do allow yeshiva students to present themselves for preliminary processing, although presently such men generally receive deferrals and exemptions.
Auerbach’s faction is thought to amount to approximately 15 percent of the non-hassidic haredi community, and so the number of yeshiva students arrested for not reporting to IDF offices is not high, but has been a frequently occurring story for the last 18 months.
Jerusalem Faction loyalists, most often youths, have staged violent demonstrations over the last year, and frequently seek to disrupt traffic during such riots, as happened earlier this month.