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War in the Middle East: Angry protests by ultra-Orthodox Israelis against conscription

War in the Middle East: Angry protests by ultra-Orthodox Israelis against conscription
War in the Middle East: Angry protests by ultra-Orthodox Israelis against conscription

A dispute over compulsory military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews has been simmering in Israel for decades. A court ruling has driven thousands of angry young men onto the streets.

In Israel, thousands of ultra-Orthodox men have protested against the court-ordered obligation to serve in the Israeli army. According to local media reports, violent clashes with the police took place in Jerusalem yesterday evening. The police tried to disperse the demonstrators, who were dressed in black suits, using mounted officers and a water cannon. Police officers were attacked and pelted with stones. Five rioters were arrested.

The protests were triggered by a recent ruling by the country’s highest court, according to which ultra-Orthodox men must now also be required to perform military service. The ruling is seen as a setback for the right-wing religious government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

For decades, ultra-Orthodox men were exempted from compulsory military service in Israel. But these exemptions expired three months ago. Netanyahu’s government failed to pass a law that would have cemented the exemptions. The Supreme Court then ordered the cancellation of state subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men of military age who study in religious schools.

At the end of March, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara also decided that the military was obliged to draft religious students, who had previously been largely exempt from military service. According to the court, this includes 63,000 men. The army recently warned urgently of a drastic shortage of combat soldiers in light of the Gaza war. In addition, many Israelis feel it is unfair that ultra-Orthodox Jews are exempt from military service and dangerous combat missions.

Source: Stern

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