Extremist haredim violently protest arrest of yeshiva student by army

19-year-old haredi refused to present himself at IDF's enlistment office; two protesters arrested, one officer lightly injured.

Haredi protest in Jerusalem 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Haredi protest in Jerusalem 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Protests staged by hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men from extremist elements of the haredi community in Jerusalem turned violent in the capital on Thursday, with two arrests made and one police officer lightly wounded.Demonstrators were protesting the arrest earlier this week of a yeshiva student who refused to present himself to the IDF enlistment office. They gathered outside the Batei Warsaw complex in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood to listen to a speech by a local rabbi denouncing the detention of the student.Some 350 demonstrators then took to the streets, according to a police estimate, and succeeded briefly in blocking traffic by standing, and in some cases lying, in the middle of the road, and dragging large trash dumpsters into the path of the traffic, which were subsequently set on fire.Video credit: 24 NewsProtesters also threw stones at riot police forces which quickly arrived at the scene and violent confrontations ensued between the two sides. One officer from the Border Police was struck on the head and lightly wounded by a rock and he was taken to the hospital for treatment.Riot dispersal equipment, including water cannons, were deployed to break up the demonstration and the police made two arrests on charges of disturbing the public order.Demonstrators were largely from the hardline Jerusalem communities of Mea She’arim and Geula, and are connected to the extremist and anti-Zionist Eda Haredit communal organization.This grouping, which numbers several thousand families in the capital, is one of the most radical elements in the haredi community.Public notices were posted throughout Mea She’arim calling on people to protest the arrest of the yeshiva student and against haredi enlistment to the army in general.“We are declaring a war of survival,” declared one poster. “Yeshiva students are kidnapped and sent to military prison,” read another.Tensions have heightened since the detention of 19- year old yeshiva student Moshe Elashvilli, who was arrested on Sunday for failing to present himself at IDF enlistment offices.Elashvilli is associated with the Jerusalem Faction, a hardline grouping of the more mainstream non-hassidic haredi community.This faction, led by senior haredi leader Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has taken an even harder line against haredi enlistment than the mainstream ultra-Orthodox leadership.Although Auerbach’s camp is seen as ideologically and communally separate from the extremist Eda Haredit and Jerusalemite factions, these elements joined together in a huge protest back in May against haredi enlistment to the IDF.This cooperation between these different groupings has been seen as a new development in the growing haredi anger at proposed government legislation to draft yeshiva students into national service programs.