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Jerusalem Protest by Ultra-Orthodox Jews Turns Violent

  • VOA News

Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are sprayed with water canons during clashes with police at a protest against the detention of a member of their community who refuses to serve in the Israeli army, in Jerusalem, Israel, Sept. 17, 2017.

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews clashed with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem Sunday when an anti-military demonstration turned violent.

The protest became violent when demonstrators blocked roads and resisted efforts to disperse them by riot police, mounted officers and by water cannons.

"Eight rioters who used violence against police were arrested," a police statement said

The protesters were demonstrating against the arrest of a community member for refusing to enlist in the military. The issue has gained attention since Israel's Supreme Court struck down a 2015 law that granted exemptions from military service to ultra-Orthodox men.

Most ultra-Orthodox seminary students are exempt from military service but they must obtain the exemption by submitting to a conscription process. Police say the man arrested refused to show up for recruitment.

Israeli men and women are required to join the military when they turn 18, but the ultra-Orthodox community has won exemptions, contending that young men studying in Jewish seminaries serve the nation through study and prayer.

Secular Israelis say the system is unfair, and the Supreme Court ruling last week endorsed that view. The high court delayed implementation of its ruling for one year, to give the government time to resolve the issue or, as many Israelis believe, to allow the ultra-Orthodox community to campaign for a new law extending the religious exemptions.

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