Ultra Orthodox Protest Military Service in Israel
Earlier this year (2017) the High Court of Justice struck down a law exempting ultra-Orthodox men engaged in religious study from military service, saying it undermined equality.
The very religious ultra-Orthodox were highly troubled by this verdict as it possibly means they will have to send their sons and daughters into the military as all secular Israelis are already required to do. After High School at age 18, young men serve for almost 3 years, mandatory. Young women for 2 years.
To protest this – last month, they gathered blocking entrances and over one hundred ultra-Orthodox have already been arrested. Police used water cannons, tear gas and a foul smelling spray to disperse hundreds of people blocking entrances in Jerusalem.
Some ultra-Orthodox protesters chanted, “We’d rather die than be drafted,” at the demonstrations.
”Eight rioters who used violence against police were arrested,” a police statement said in Hebrew, according to The Associated Press. ”They lay down in the road, shouting slogans against the police, some of them threw stones at police.”
The ultra-Orthodox oppose serving for a variety of reasons, with the most extreme believing a Jewish state is not allowed before the coming of the messiah.
Others argue that study of religious texts is just as important to Israel as military service. And others simply state that ultra-Orthodox young men and women would be confronted daily with seeing the irreligious behavior of others in the army and that is not acceptable.