Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators clashed with police in Jerusalem on Thursday in protest against the arrest of a yeshiva student who did not show up at an Israeli military enlistment center to arrange his military service deferral.
The protesters torched trash cans and lobbed stones at the police, lightly injuring one Border Police officer. At least two protesters were arrested.
The 19-year-old student was arrested at his parents' home in Kiryat Malakhi late Sunday night. The following day he was tried and sentenced to 14 days in military jail after refusing to answer a summons to come and arrange his deferral, or ask for an exemption from service.
Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, a top figure in the ultra-Orthodox community, traveled from Jerusalem on Wednesday to personally visit the student in the military's Prison 6, while hundreds of yeshivah students protested outside the prison.
The Israeli military has required yeshiva students to report to enlistment centers since August 2012, when the High Court struck out the legislation allowing for their exemption from compulsory military service.
A year ago a number of Haredi rabbis issued an order to their followers not to cooperate with the IDF. As result, hundreds of yeshiva students are ignoring the notices they receive requiring them to periodically appear at the draft offices. Until now, the military has avoided taking action against the yeshiva students.
In recent weeks, the “harassment” of these yeshiva students has increased, said sources in Auerbach’s camp. Auerbach is one of two senior rabbis battling for the leadership of the so-called Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community − a group comprised of non-Hassidic Ashkenazi Haredim. The harassment, according to the Haredim, includes visits by the Military Police to the students' homes.
“It seems someone has decided to inflame the issue, exactly when the Shaked Committee is reaching the point of making a decision,” said a close follower of Auerbach. The Shaked Committee, headed by MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), is formulating a new law governing the drafting of Haredim and is expected to complete its work soon.
"If that's what they want, they'll see a wave of mass protests in Israel and abroad against the government," said the follower.