(JTA) — Two effigies of Israeli soldiers with ropes around their necks were hung in predominantly haredi Orthodox areas of Jerusalem in what Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said was a “shocking” criminal act.
On Friday, police officers removed the effigies from a rooftop in the Mea Shearim neighborhood and from a rope dangling from a column on Chaim Ozer Street, the Israel Broadcasting Corp. reported. One was soaked in a flammable fluid.
The effigies had black kippahs on their heads, leading to speculation in the Israeli media that it was meant to intimidate haredi soldiers who serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
Haredi Orthodox Jews were allowed an automatic exemption from serving until a 2014 law decreed they sign up for the army or other frameworks by 2017. Despite violent protests in response by some haredim, including assaults against haredi conscripts, their numbers are rising, according to the IDF. Their number rose from just a few dozen in 1999 to 2,850 recruits in 2016, according to the news site NRG.
“The sight of an effigy of a soldier hanging from a noose in M’a She’arim is shocking,” Liberman wrote on Twitter. As defense minister, my job is to afford security also to this kind of inciters. As a citizen, my duty is to fight them politically. The authorities’ duty is to put them behind bars. I expect the heads of the haredi parties to condemn this act.”
Liberman has clashed with haredi politicians over his support for increasing conscription among the haredim. He dressed up as a haredi soldier on Purim in what the Israeli media interpreted both as a jab to anger haredi politicians and a sign of support and solidarity for haredi soldiers facing pressure and intimidation in their communities.