Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) protesters blocked several main roads in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon to protest the arrest of a yeshiva student who failed to report to the IDF recruitment office.
Hundreds of haredi protesters were blocking the Sarei Yisrael-Jaffa intersection near the entrance of the city, completely halting the activity of the city's light rail. Videos showed protesters sitting on the road, refusing to move, as police used a water cannon to disperse the crowd.
As the evening progressed, protesters began moving towards the String Bridge and blocking the main entrance to the city.
Three police officers were reportedly injured during the protest, as protesters started throwing bottles towards officers on the scene. They were treated on the scene and evacuated to the hospital.
IDF's Ground Forces Commander Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick who happened to pass by the area was reportedly attacked by protesters who identified him, surrounded his car and threatened to physically hurt him. He responded by drawing his handgun before being rescued by an Israel Police special patrol unit team, according to N12.
Three protesters were arrested by police for disrupting public order during the evening. A message released by the protest organizers earlier on Tuesday read: "Masses of Jews are making their way to Jerusalem for a stubborn and uncompromised struggle demanding the release of the yeshiva student and canceling his mandatory service immediately." The yeshiva student in question is 20-year-old Shechna Rotenberg from a yeshiva in Modi'in. The head of his yeshiva reportedly initiated the protest, ordering his yeshiva students to "oppose any compromise that entails sacrificing yeshiva students on the altar of normalization with the state authorities," the message read. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi condemned the assault on Strick during the protest.
"Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick has been working for decades for the protection of the country and its citizens, including those from the group that acted violently in today's incident. The chief of staff condemns any kind of violence against IDF personnel, who work night and day to ensure the safety of Israel's citizens," an IDF Spokesperson's Unit statement read. Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman also criticized the protesters and the attack on Strick, tweeting: "When they want to recruit [around a common goal], they sure do know how to."
כשהם רוצים להתגייס, הם יודעים איך לעשות את זה. pic.twitter.com/jgOuuJBPPT— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) December 22, 2020
Later on Tuesday, dozens of protesters arrived at the String Bridge intersection at the main entrance to Jerusalem to protest the death of Ahuvia Sandek on Monday, a Hilltop Youth who died after his car flipped over while escaping police in the West Bank. Ten protesters were arrested after trying to block the main intersection and clashing with police officers on the scene, police reported.