Ultra-Orthodox Jews block Jerusalem road in draft protest
JERUSALEM – Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews are blocking the main entrance to Jerusalem to protest the arrest of members of their community for refusing to register for the military draft.
Israel has compulsory military service for most Jewish men, but the ultra-Orthodox, whose political parties enjoy an outsized role in the country’s coalition politics, have secured exemptions. Authorities still require ultra-Orthodox men to register for the draft, something to which the protesters gathered Thursday are opposed.
The exemptions have angered many secular and mainstream Jews.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners are currently arguing about whether to extend the draft exemptions as part of a budget debate. A key non-religious party has threatened to bolt if the budget is not passed soon.