The State Attorney’s Office for Jerusalem filed nine indictments on Sunday against haredi (ultra-Orthodox) protesters for rioting at demonstrations against IDF enlistment and blocking a major junction, bringing traffic in the capital to a halt.
The indictments are the latest of 67 that have been filed by the Jerusalem State Attorney’s Office since the year began, reflecting the high number of demonstrations staged by haredi radicals in recent months.
Sunday’s indictments were for demonstrations held at the Bar Ilan junction last week, protesting the arrest and detention by military police of haredi yeshiva students who failed to report to IDF enlistment offices for preliminary processing.
Anyone who fails to report for preliminary IDF processing when so ordered is deemed a deserter and liable to arrest by the military police.
The charges include participating in illegal demonstrations, throwing rocks at police, spitting at police, and attacking police personnel.
In recent months, the number of demonstrations staged by the extremist Jerusalem Faction group has increased. For three years, faction leaders have called on the faithful to not cooperate with the state on matters of enlistment in any way, even in order to obtain the exemption given to all haredi yeshiva students who request one.
As more yeshiva students become deserters by their absence, the chances grow higher of their being arrested.
Demonstrations are called after a yeshiva student is arrested. In some demonstrators, yeshiva students break the law and get arrested. They are subsequently discovered to be IDF deserters and sent to military prison, creating a new cycle of demonstrations.
The increasing number of arrests and indictments may be a sign that law enforcement agencies have begun to crack down on the demonstrations.
That may also be seen in recent police efforts to halt the frequent attacks – verbal and physical – against uniformed haredi soldiers in extremist neighborhoods such as Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim and the surrounding areas.
On Thursday, a policeman disguised as a religious IDF soldier in uniform, was attacked by numerous extremists in Mea She’arim. Officers who were lying in wait arrested eight of the attackers.
Police described the operation as “a focused and initiated operation,” and said that the “targeted arrests” were part of a “complex and proactive investigation to locate those attacking uniformed personnel.”
The police said in a statement: “The Israel Police sees the phenomenon of incitement and assaults on religious soldiers, because of their IDF service, and attacking police personnel as one of great severity. The police is investing great efforts to deal with the phenomenon, whether by collecting intelligence information against the perpetrators of these attacks and incitement, or on the investigative level for the purposes of identifying suspects and bringing them to justice, as happened in this incident.”
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