Anti-draft ultra-Orthodox Protests Shut Down Jerusalem in 'Day of Rage'; 120 Arrested

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Security forces attempt to disperse ultra-Orthodox demonstrators protesting the arrest of two yeshiva students charged with draft evasion, Jerusalem, October 19, 2017.
Security forces attempt to disperse ultra-Orthodox demonstrators protesting the arrest of two yeshiva students charged with draft evasion, Jerusalem, October 19, 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Police arrested some 120 ultra-Orthodox demonstrators in Jerusalem and the nearby city of Beit Shemesh on Thursday during a protest against the arrests of two yeshiva students charged with draft evasion. 

Thousands of protesters blocked downtown Jerusalem for hours, obstructing traffic to the central bus station and the light rail, and blocked other major roads and highways around the country.

The dubbed "Jerusalem faction" of non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodox kicked off their declared "day of rage" earlier on Thursday morning with a demonstration on highway Route 446, blocking the road near Modi'in Ilit northwest of Jerusalem.

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After the arrest of the students, who were sentenced to 20 days in military prison, the leader of the Jerusalem faction, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, ordered his followers to protest. Hundreds of people blocked central roads in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak for two days, clashing with drivers and police officers. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested. Following two days of demonstrating, leaders declared a “day of rage” Thursday.

Security forces attempt to disperse ultra-Orthodox demonstrators protesting the arrest of two yeshiva students charged with draft evasion, Jerusalem, October 19, 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Security forces attempt to disperse ultra-Orthodox demonstrators protesting the arrest of two yeshiva students charged with draft evasion, Jerusalem, October 19, 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
An ultra-Orthodox faction protests the arrest of two yeshiva students on charges of draft evasion October 19, 2017.Credit: Gili Cohen

“The masses of the House of Israel will not rest or remain quiet until the plague of the draft decree that hovers of the heads of yeshiva students is removed,” the group said in a statement ahead of Thursday's action. “The entire exile will burn like a bonfire.”

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