(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Police on Saturday night arrested several haredi extremists, suspected in several attacks on soldiers in uniform in Beit Shemesh in the last two weeks.
Two weeks ago, a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) soldier in uniform was walking in the city when he was attacked by a group of extremists.
A haredi IDF officer who was not in uniform, who happened to be driving in the exact spot where the attack occurred, got out of his car and pulled the soldier away and into his car.
The group of extremists then attacked the officer too, tried to prevent him from driving away and threw stones at him.
A week before that incident, dozens of extremist haredi men blocked several roads in Beit Shemesh and threw stones at policemen, one of whom was lightly wounded, during a protest against the arrest of a yeshiva student who had failed to report to an IDF enlistment office when called to do so.
On Saturday night, three suspects from Beit Shemesh were arrested. Two are suspected of attacking a police officer and one, a 14-year-old, is suspected of attacking the solider.
“The targeted arrests tonight are the result of a complex and strenuous investigation conducted by a special investigative team,” the police said, adding that the investigation had utilized undercover methods to gather information about those involved in the attacks. “The police see the phenomenon of incitement and attacks on religious soldiers and against police personnel extremely seriously... and will not hesitate to take severe action against those who attack servicemen in uniform.”
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, who has been active in finding ways to prevent incitement and attacks against haredi soldiers, welcomed the arrests and called on the State Attorney’s Office to expedite the legal process and file indictments against the suspects as soon as possible.
“Only quick and uncompromising [law] enforcement will bring about the required deterrence against those who harm IDF soldiers,” he said.
Ben-Dahan also called for greater efforts to combat the incitement against haredi soldiers that has taken place in recent years, saying many complaints had been made to the police but had not been sufficiently dealt with.
An ongoing campaign of incitement against haredi soldiers has been conducted by haredi extremists in recent years, leading to numerous incidents of physical violence against soldiers and frequent occurrences of verbal abuse.
“I once again call for to the system of law enforcement to join hands and to initiate a broader process of criminal and economic deterrence and enforcement, which is the only thing that will prevent further