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Religious extremists disrupt traffic, protest IDF draft law that 80% of Israelis support

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men during a protest in Rosh Pina, following the arrest of an ultra Orthodox young man who failed to comply with army draft, September 13, 2023. (Photo: David Cohen/Flash90)

Several hundred Israeli Jewish religious extremists protested at several locations, including Jerusalem and the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, against the IDF draft of young ultra-Orthodox men on Wednesday.

The ultra-religious faction coordinated the protest that disrupted traffic along major roads in the Israeli capital following the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man who violated Israeli law by not showing up to his military duty call-up on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the man was quickly released from military prison.

The Jerusalem protesters displayed posters with anti-IDF messages, such as “A Holocaust is preferable to recruiting yeshiva students.” One extremist protester told the Maariv news outlet that he'd “rather get shot than enlist" in the Israel Defense Forces.

The protests in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak come at a time of heightened tensions in Israeli society concerning a potentially new military conscription law.

Many secular and non-orthodox Israelis oppose the current status quo that exempts most ultra-Orthodox men from military service on religious grounds. At the same time, the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Netanyahu government have repeatedly threatened to dismantle the coalition government if the new conscription law is not passed by the end of the Jewish holidays in October.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is the largest coalition member, the prime minister cannot currently maintain his government without support from the two ultra-Orthodox parties.

Meanwhile, 80% of Israelis reportedly do support the military draft for religious yeshiva students, according to a new report from Hiddush, an organization dedicated to religious freedom and equality in Israeli society.

Rabbi Uri Regev, the Hiddush CEO, warned of the growing division within Israeli society.

“These statistics are indicative of a pivotal moment or Israeli society. The widening chasm between religious communities, along with declining trust in central institutions, is a red flag for all invested in Israel’s unity and future,” Regev said.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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