After draft riot, Jerusalem Charedim charged with assaulting police


Israeli prosecutors indicted two Charedi Orthodox men for assaulting police officers called to the scene of a mob attack on a Charedi soldier in Jerusalem.

The two men, Joseph Braun and Jacob Krischavski, were charged on Thursday with attacking several police officers on Tuesday during a riot that erupted in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Meah Shearim. If convicted, the defendants could face at least three years in prison.

The attack came two days after Israel’s Knesset approved a proposal to draft haredi men into the Israeli Defense Forces. A small number of haredi leaders have allowed and in some cases encouraged enlistment, but the majority have resisted the draft. The proposed law has sparked numerous protests.

Another haredi soldier was assaulted in Jerusalem on Thursday, this time in the neighborhood of Shmuel Hanavi, situated north of Meah Shearim. Assailants threw objects at the soldier from a van, according to NRG, the news site of the Maariv daily.

On Tuesday, officers were called to Meah Shearim after dozens of haredi men intimidated a haredi soldier. The men gathered outside the office of the uncle of the soldier, who came to visit his uncle during a short leave from the army, according to the indictment filed on Thursday by the Jerusalem prosecutor’s office with the city’s Magistrate’s Court.

The soldier, who does not live in Jerusalem, was wearing a uniform and a black kipah. Several dozen men gathered around him and hurled garbage as he was walking to the office. He entered the office, changed to civilian clothes and called police as the crowd chanted insults outside.

The two defendants and several other individuals hurled stones, metal bars and water buckets at the police. Braun and Krischavski, both in their early 20s, were charged with aggravated assault of a police officer, obstructing a police officer and rioting.

Israel seals deal ending military exemptions for ultra-Orthodox


Israel clinched a deal on Wednesday to abolish wholesale exemptions from military service for Jewish seminary students, ended a brief crisis that divided the ruling coalition parties.

The issue of “sharing the national burden” is at the heart of heated debate over privileges the ultra-Orthodox minority has enjoyed for decades, and a government-appointed committee had failed to formulate a new conscription law earlier this week.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, had balked at a clause under which criminal charges would be brought against those trying to dodge conscription.

Netanyahu's main coalition partner, the centrist Yesh Atid party, threatened on Monday to quit the government unless the issue was resolved.

In a compromise that paved the way for the deal, the committee agreed on sanctions but delayed imposing them during a four-year interim period in which the military will encourage 18-year-old Bible scholars to enlist, political officials said.

Under the proposed law, which still faces ratification in the cabinet and parliament, the number of seminary students exempted from the military each year will be limited to 1,800 of the estimated 8,000 required to register for the draft annually.

Welcoming the agreement on the proposed law, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid told a news conference: “The government proved it can make a change, even on the most explosive issues.”

Yesh Atid came second to Likud in the January general election on a pledge to reduce state benefits for Israel's fast-growing ultra-Orthodox minority and end military service exemptions for the community.

For the first time in a decade, Israel's government has no ultra-Orthodox members, and main coalition partners had pressed Netanyahu to break with political tradition and enact reforms under a slogan of “sharing the national burden”.

Most Israeli men and women are called up for military service for up to three years when they turn 18. However, exceptions have been made for most Arab citizens of Israel, as well as ultra-Orthodox men and women.

Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Mark Heinrich

How Charedi draftees affect the military


Professor Yagil Levy of the Open University in Israel discusses the Charedi draft, and an alternative direction on Iran. ‎

You have claimed that the religious community has a growing amount of influence ‎in the Israeli military – why is this a negative thing? Does it impair the army’s ‎operational capabilities, and in what ways?‎

There is nothing wrong in the growing presence of religious soldiers in the ‎IDF. The problem is with the attempts of the soldiers’ leadership to impair the ‎military’s autonomy in several areas, such as: exclusion of women from many ‎roles in field units, the expansion of the role of military chaplains – from the ‎traditional role of providing religious services to the religious socialization of ‎secular soldiers, and many instances in which religious solders refused, or ‎threatened to refuse, to carry out orders to evacuate settlements in the West ‎Bank. ‎

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