Nine ultra-Orthodox Jews were arrested following violent clashes with security forces in Jerusalem during protests against conscription into the armed forces.
Hundreds of Israelis rallied in Jerusalem al-Quds to protest active duty in the military, and the arrests of around 40 people, including the grandson of a famous rabbi, for dodging the draft.
During the protests rabbis gave speeches, and demonstrators help up anti-regime banners. “We’re Jews and therefore will not enlist in the Zionist army,” read one placard.
Last week, the Israeli the Supreme Court annulled a law which exempted ultra-Orthodox believers from conscription into the armed forces.
On Sunday, the protest turned violent when hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews took to the streets of the Mea She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem to protest the draft and speak out against the arrest of a rabbi’s son who reportedly did not appear for a draft summons.
Organized by the hardline group Eda Haredit, activists carried banners which read: “We’re Jews and therefore will not enlist in the Zionist army.”
Blocking traffic at an intersection, some protesters verbally “assaulted police” while others “threw stones and other objects” at the officers, police said. At least seven officers were injured.
Law enforcement eventually moved in, deploying water cannons to break up the crowd. Some protesters were seen being dragged away, while others were seen being violently pushed by the police.
“In response, the police were required to use methods to disperse the riots and to arrest nine rioters, while trying to prevent the continuation of the violent and illegal demonstration and the blocking of the traffic arteries,” said the police in a statement, according to the Times of Israel.
At least two protesters sustained injuries, prompting police to launch an internal investigation into alleged use of excessive force by officers, Israeli media said. According to some reports, one of the injured was a 16-year-old boy who suffered a head injury.
מרדכי דבלינגר חסיד תולדות א״י שנפצע ע״י השוטר בסרטון מאושפז במצב בינוני בבית החולים pic.twitter.com/hQt6WmOBRw
— ישראל כהן (@Israelcohen911) September 17, 2017
In Israeli society, ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews have traditionally been exempt from military service. Instead, for decades they have served the society through prayer and study, while helping to protect Jewish culture.
But in recent years, calls for the ultra-Orthodox to contribute more to the country’s defense and economy have grown dramatically. Israel has long had a compulsory draft, with men serving in the military for three years and women for two years.