Haredi Orthodox protest yeshiva funding freeze

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Haredi Orthodox demonstrators protesting cuts in funding over draft deferrals clashed with police in Jerusalem.

The haredim also were protesting the arrest of a haredi Orthodox yeshiva student for draft dodging.

Major protests were held as well on Thursday in Bnei Brak and Ashdod.

In Jerusalem, there were about a dozen arrests after protesters hurled bottles and stones at officers, according to reports.

The demonstrations came after Israel’s Supreme Court earlier in the week froze nearly $3 million in funding to haredi Orthodox yeshivas until the government stops military deferments for their students and passes a new law on drafting yeshiva students.

The funding was to be withheld from yeshivas with students aged 18-20 who have received draft notices since last summer but did not appear for their induction. But on Thursday, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid halted all funding to the yeshivas, including freezing payments already transferred earlier in the week for the February disbursement, after discovering that the money was still being used for those students.

The Yesh Atid party headed by Lapid made a universal draft law, which it also calls the Sharing the Burden, one of its major campaign issues.

The Tal Law, which allowed haredi men to defer army service indefinitely, was invalidated by the Supreme Court in February 2012 and expired in August that year. Haredi yeshiva students since then have had their drafts deferred.

A government committee headed by lawmaker Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party is working to finish revising a universal draft law, which already has passed its first reading in the Knesset.

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