Haredim attack third religious soldier in a week

Two haredi men spit on national-religious soldier, punch him; Peres calls on ultra-Orthodox leaders for support.

A poster targeting haredi soldiers is seen in Jerusalem 370 (photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
A poster targeting haredi soldiers is seen in Jerusalem 370
(photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
The police reported that another haredi attack, this time on a national-religious soldier, took place on Sunday afternoon in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Yisrael, close to Mea She’arim.
According to police spokesman Shmuel Ben- Ruby, two haredi men attacked a uniformed soldier wearing a crocheted kippa who was passing by on Sha’arei Shamayim Street.
Ben-Ruby said that the passersby spat at the soldier and punched him. The soldier fled the area and called police to assist him. He was extracted from the area by police without injury.
The suspects fled the scene with the Special Patrol Unit on motorcycles searching the neighborhood.
This is the third serious incident of a violent attack against a religious soldier by members of the haredi public in Jerusalem in the last week.
On Thursday last week, a haredi soldier walking home on Shmuel Hanavi street in Mea She’arim was pelted with various objects and cursed by passengers in a vehicle that passed him by.
The uniformed soldier took refuge in a nearby building and was extracted from the site by the police without being harmed.
On Tuesday evening, a mob of approximately 100 haredi men surrounded and threatened another haredi soldier in uniform. He managed to escape and was rescued by police, but a riot broke out when the mob confronted police officers and threw stones and other objects at them.
Four arrests were made at the time, including a minor.
An intense public information campaign has been launched by radical elements in the haredi community against ultra-Orthodox soldiers in recent months in protest to proposed legislation to draft haredi yeshiva students into military service.
Inflammatory posters depicting so-called “hardakim,” (weak-minded haredim) who join the army have been posted in haredi communities around the country.
In one recent and elaborate poster, haredi soldiers and policemen are portrayed rounding up haredi children and taking them off for military service, while the children call out for help.
The poster had one of the haredi children saying “They’re making me a cantonist,” a reference to the forcible conscription of underage Jewish children conducted by the Russian army in the 19th century.
A haredi soldier in the poster says “Children, don’t run away, I’m religious, I’m a proud hardak, so what if I’m an ambassador for the army.”
Another religious solider, lifting haredi children into a military vehicle, thinks to himself “Now it’s by force, but in a few years they’ll want to [enlist] by themselves.”
President Shimon Peres called on the haredi community to support ultra-Orthodox soldiers during a meeting with haredi troops earlier on Sunday.
“I call on the heads of the haredi camp to be proud of the haredi soldiers, just as we are proud of you,” Peres told the soldiers.
Peres grounded his speech in the teachings of the Bible, saying, “we must protect against all acts of violence – these acts are against the concept of the Ten Commandments.”
The president urged haredi soldiers to persevere in the face of opposition.
“It is a mitzva [religious commandment] to protect our country,” Peres said. “No one is going to do it for us.”
There have been tensions of late between the haredi community and the Israeli public that have been exacerbated as a result of the ultra-Orthodox Knesset parties having been left out of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition government. Despite the turmoil, Peres reminded the nation that Israel is a unified country.
“We are all brothers, one nation and not two,” Peres said.
In response, a representative for the haredi soldiers commended the army for its support and made it clear that it is possible for haredi soldiers to serve in the army while staying to true to their religious lifestyle.
“When we are on active duty, and when we return home from the army, we study Torah in the proper manner, alone or in pairs, or in yeshiva,” the speaker said.
“The IDF gives the necessary support network to make it possible to be drafted as haredi men and to be discharged as haredi men.”