Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Protest Arrest of Yeshiva Students Who Dodged Draft

Extremist Eda Haredit sect joining forces with Lithuanian Haredim against mainstream religious politicians.

Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger
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Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men protested on Monday outside a military prison south of Haifa in support of two yeshiva students who are serving short sentences for their refusal to report to the draft office to arrange for their deferral of service.

The protesters, members of the extremist Eda Haredit, were headed by their leader, Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss.

The students have apparently ignored summonses to appear at the draft office to arrange for their deferral, as thousands of yeshiva student do every year.

The Eda Haredit, an anti-Zionist group, is now joining Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the leader of the Lithuanian sect of ultra-Orthodoxy, in his efforts to encourage ultra-Orthodox young men to refuse to be drafted. Last week Auerbach came to the prison, known as Prison 6, to protest.

Auerbach and Weiss are drawing closer ideologically, both accusing the ultra-Orthodox political parties and their rabbis of being too moderate on the issue of army service for their followers. The two have been waging an internal struggle for leadership among their followers in recent months.

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