Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem Protest Army Draft

Speaking to about 10,000 ultra-Orthodox protestors in Jerusalem that looked like a sea of black, leader Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach called on his followers to fight the government-imposed draft “until the last drop of blood.” Angry demonstrators chanted, “we lived through Hitler, we’ll outlive you,” aimed at the Israeli government, and “We’ll fill the prisons the way we filled the Diaspora.” In Israel, all Jewish men and women are drafted – men for three years and women for two. Ultra-Orthodox men can claim a deferment as long as they are full-time students in a yeshiva, but they must go before the draft board. Recently, more ultra-Orthodox have simply been ignoring their summons to the draft board. Last week, a rabbi’s son was arrested, which sparked the protests. During the rally, some of the protestors signed a power of attorney and said they will go to the Hague, claiming that the draft is a human rights violation. Rabbi Auerbach spoke at the protest, in what was his first public appearance during the current wave of clash between the sector and the IDF. “This is the uprooting of all that is sacred and holy,” said Auerbach in his speech. “Our job is to stand guard and not be swayed by any compromises or offers of facilitation.” Mentioning that the IDF has begun to recruit young men from the yeshivas themselves, he added, “We cannot make peace with this reality.”

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