Thirty ultra-Orthodox protesters were arrested yesterday in Bnei Brak, Israel, after they threw rocks and tear gas at police officers and blocked a major central highway during a demonstration against the army draft, the Times of Israel website reports today (March 23, 2018).
Hundreds took part in the demonstration that was initriated by the Jerusalem Faction, a radical ultra-Orthodox faction that has spearheaded protests. Protesters blocked traffic in both directions of Route 4 in the city of Bnei Barak, causing the road to be closed for more than three hours.
While the issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment has been a contentious one in Israel for decades -- relating to whether young ultra-Orthodox men studying in yeshivas, or seminaries, should be called upon to serve in Israel's military like the rest of Israelis -- these protests are over the Jerusalem Faction's refusal to have any connection with the military.
Ultra-Orthodox Israelis are exempted from enlistment, but they are required to report to enlistrment offices to sign a deferral of service, which Jerusalem Faction rabbinic leaders order their strudents not to do.