Above: file photo; haredim stone police in Mea Shearim in July 2011
Haredim To Hold Anti-Draft Protest Today, Despite War
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Missiles may be flying and Israel’s security services and police may be on high terrorism alert, but haredim are still planning to stage a large anti-draft protest in Jerusalem today, anyway.
Because similar haredi anti-draft protests across the country this week turned violent, police have been forced to increase already high security in Jerusalem for the large haredi anti-draft protest scheduled for Wednesday afternoon there, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Haredim are demanding that 20-year-old haredi yeshiva student Eliyahu Cohen – who has repeatedly dodged the draft – be released from IDF prison and returned to his yeshiva, the Orhot David yeshiva in Jerusalem, which is part of the non-hasidic haredi rebel faction headed by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.
Cohen has been arrested three separate times after, on the orders of his rabbis, he refused to report to an IDF induction center to either enlist or ask for an exemption.
Cohen was arrested this spring but then released for Passover after haredim rioted across the country and haredi politicians intervened with the IDF.
Once released, Cohen again refused to report to an induction center and was arrested last month and imprisoned for 20 days.
But for the third time, Cohen refused to report to an induction center after his release and was arrested last week and jailed again. He has reportedly begun a hunger strike – a tactic he also used during previous terms of imprisonment.
Hundreds of haredim are scheduled to protest in Jerusalem’s haredi Mea Shearim neighborhood this afternoon.
“We will have dozens of officers in the area to ensure no rioting takes place. Police are aware of the sensitivity of the issue and will oversee the protest accordingly,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld reportedly said yesterday.
Haredi rabbinic leaders vehemently oppose any draft of haredi yeshiva students and also oppose enlisting haredi yeshiva students into Israel’s national civilian service. Haredi rabbis and community activists have demonized the few haredim who are serving in the IDF, and haredi IDF soldiers have been assaulted by mobs of young haredim in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and elsewhere throughout the country.