The extremist Jerusalem Faction called for protests on Wednesday after a yeshiva student was arrested for not showing up to the IDF draft office when called up. The protests were scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and Rosh Pina, as well as other locations.
The student, who studies at the Ponevezh Yeshiva, was arrested on his way to Meron. The Jerusalem Faction expressed outrage at the "criminal conscription law which has drafted yeshiva students into the army."
"Due to his criminal arrest, the rabbis of the 'Committee for the Salvation of the Torah World' will go to the residence of Rabbi Asher Deutsch, and get his decision on the nature of the major campaign that is facing the public," said the faction, according to the Behadrei Haredim news site.
"The Torah world will come out en masse to protest and cry 'oppression' for the souls of young Israelis who are languishing in the terrible frameworks of the army as a result of the criminal conscription law. And as our great Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach instructed us: 'To shake the entire world about the arrest of the prisoners of the Torah world who do not report to the conscription offices.'"
The 'Committee for the Salvation of the Torah World' insisted that it would continue not to show up at draft offices and blamed haredi MKs for the law requiring yeshiva students to show up at draft offices.
"The demonstrations will be recorded from all sides. We will not be silent about discrimination between blood and blood, and we will respond accordingly if we encounter police treatment that would not have happened on Kaplan St.," said the Committee for the Salvation of the Torah World.
Haredi draft exemptions
According to Israeli law, haredi yeshiva students can receive a de-facto exemption from military service by signing a declaration at a draft office stating "Torah study is his occupation" ("Torato Umanuto"). The mechanism grants yeshiva students a deferral of their service which is renewed until they pass the age of conscription and are no longer required to serve.
The arrangement legally requires those using this mechanism to almost exclusively spend their days studying in yeshiva, although the State Comptroller and activists pushing for equal conscription requirements have complained of poor and ineffective enforcement of the law.
The mechanism was established in its first form under an agreement between haredi leaders and Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, with about 400 students using the mechanism at the time. The number of students using the arrangement to avoid military service has since spiked to tens of thousands.
In recent weeks, the haredi parties in the coalition have issued threats to topple the government if legislation granting a blanket exemption from military conscription for yeshiva students is not passed first thing after the Knesset reconvenes in its winter session in October. The parties have also demanded that any such legislation be "immunized" against judicial review.