Haredi protesters bring Jerusalem to standstill over draft-dodging yeshiva students


JERUSALEM (JTA) —  Haredi Orthodox protesters blocked the entrance to Jerusalem and the city’s light rail for three hours during a demonstration against the jailing of yeshiva students for draft dodging.

At least 35 of the demonstrators, from a fringe group called the Committee to Save the Torah World, the operational arm of the so-called Jerusalem Faction, were arrested Sunday after police used force to break up the protests.

Some 27 haredi youth are currently jailed for up to 90 days in military prison for failing to visit the draft office and to file the paperwork required to obtain their exemption from military service in the Israel Defense Forces. Several of the youths arrested on Sunday were discovered to be draft dodgers as well.

Last week, at least 32 haredi demonstrators were arrested during similar demonstrations in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, and Modiin Illit.

Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, head of the Jerusalem Faction, ordered the demonstration “to protest for the dignity of the Torah, which has been ground into dust by the incarceration of 12 prisoners of the Torah world for extended periods. Last week, the Haredi masses took to the streets to protest, and hundreds were arrested and four more prisoners of the Torah world were handed over to the military authorities,” according to a statement from the committee, the Times of Israel reported.

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