Thousands of men protested the military draft in a demonstration Tuesday night held in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim.
The demonstrators were specifically protesting the recruitment of hareidi-religious male students.
Most males in the hareidi-religious sector continue their studies past the age of 18, the age at which all Israeli youths are drafted for military service. Instead, they prepare for a life of Torah study in a kollel (rabbinic study hall). Some train to become Torah scribes, highly skilled religious slaughterers of kosher meat, Torah adjutants, rabbinic teachers, and so forth.
Recently changed laws have mandated instead that many of these young men must interrupt their studies to serve in the military, sometimes in environments not conducive to Torah life.
Hareidi-religious leaders have vigorously fought this trend, citing the difficulties of catching up with learning that was lost during IDF service, and the struggles to re-adapt to a yeshiva lifestyle after the military.
Not all hareidi-religious students are suited for such a life, however, and many do enter the military. Those who do, however, have faced a complex set of challenges both within their communities and within the IDF as well, during their service and upon discharge.
Thousands are demonstrating near the Chords Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem, in protest of the unwarranted incognito incarceration and torture of Jewish youths and minors by the Shabak. The protesters are blocking the entrance to the city.
Police arrested six demonstrators and a policeman attacked Makor Rishon news photographer Miri Tzahi, pushing her camera into her face. She was taken to Terem medical center. Her face was covered in blood, according to a TPS report.
A protest against Shabak torture in Jerusalem on Dec. 20, 2015. Photo credit: Moshe Atlo /TPS
An account that made it to Facebook on Sunday revealed that one of the minors being allegedly tortured by the Shabak tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrists. The same minor has reportedly begged the remanding judge throughout his time in Shabak’s hands: “They’re turning my arms into a bow and they hold me upside down until my hands start to burn. Each day it gets worse. Give me poison. I can’t take it any more.”
The minor showed the marks of his suicide attempt to the court on Sunday. He was examined by the district psychiatrist who determined that the minor is under emotional pressure as a result of his interrogation. It was also revealed to the court that the same minor was given pills by the prison doctor because he couldn’t fall asleep as a result of the interrogations and the torture.
The minor told the judge: “I am ready to confess to everything, but I can’t explain how. Just leave me alone, damn it.”
The boy requested medical treatment for his back for the stretching and torture he endured. He burst into tears and said, “I can’t take it any more.”
Attorney Adi Keidar from the legal aid society Honenu who represents this minor said in a statement, “Today we presented to the court the hands of the minor where it can be seen clearly that a suicide attempt had been committed, all of it as a result of the torture he is undergoing in the Shabak interrogations.”
“By the end of the day we have been exposed to the continuation of the terrible saga in which we saw clearly today that everything the suspect has been telling us he already told before the court while being prevented from seeing us. He described all those shocking things and no one responded. This is a shocking event that must worry us, the fact that the court system link arms with the prosecution, the police and Shabak.”
The Honenu organization said in a statement on Sunday: The things that were revealed in this case are shocking and terrifying. The responsible elements have crossed all the lines and decided to spill the blood of Jewish children, plain and simple. This is a spiritual eclipse experienced by the State of Israel.”
The Shabak released a statement saying the report was made up and baseless.
More than a thousand people protested in front of the Prime Minister’s office on Sunday morning, demanding that security be restored for Israeli citizens, and to give the army their marching orders to clear out the terror nests.
Citizens and politicians spoke to the crowd, but the most touching was young Elkana Zamura, who is not only a student of Rabbi Litman who was murdered last week, but also the son of the stabbing victim in the Rami Levy terror attack on November 6.
A 61-year-old man from the neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv in Jerusalem was arrested on Wednesday night, on charges that he was one of the organizers of an illegal, but non-violent, anti-terrorism rally held in the neighborhood in response to the ongoing Arab attacks emanating from the neighboring Tzur Bachar neighborhood, according to a report by the Tazpit News Agency.
The man is a victim of a previous Arab terror attack.
Six protesters were arrested in total from the dozens who participated in the protest that began after the funeral for Alexander Levlovitz, who was murdered on Rosh Hashana eve by Arab terrorists who stoned his car, as he drove through the Armon HaNatziv neighborhood.
The protest was held at the traffic circle, at the entrance to Tzur Bachar, where the Arab terrorists threw the stones that caused Levlovitz to lose control of his car and get killed.
The protesters complained of police violence, while the police claimed the protesters were yelling, “Mohammad is a pig.”
The Honenu organization claims that one of the six was arrested after he photographed police violence against the angry residents.
After 2 hours of being forced to wait, as hundred of non-Jewish tourists walked past them and were granted access to tour the Temple Mount, one young Jewish boy had enough of the Israeli police’s discrimination against religious Jews and launched a spontaneous, one-boy, non-violent, civil disobedience protest.
The boy single-handedly closed the entrance to EVERYONE, demanding that religious Jewish visitors, who were forced to wait outside for 2 hours, as everyone else passed them by, be allowed to go up to the Temple Mount too.
Joining his protest was an even younger boy.
The boy made cogent arguments and the police were clearly out-numbered by the young civil rights protester and his friend.
The police arrested them.
After the arrest, Shlomo Walfish, who filmed the video, explained in English to the watching tourists what the boy was saying and about this illegal discrimination by the police.
I see a bright future for this boy as a community organizer and civil rights activist.
And if more young Jews are willing to demand and protest for it, the state and the police will be forced to end their discrimination against religious Jews going up to the Temple Mount.
The struggle between Haifa city hall and several factories in the city continued Monday morning. Managers at several factories launched a counter-assault to the city’s attempts at a forcible closure, using a crane to force a city truck from the road.
City trucks had been used to block access to four factories accused of heavy air pollution. Haifa mayor Yona Yahav announced Sunday that he plans to close the factories down.
Tensions have been high in Haifa and neighboring cities since the release last week of data showing that rates of cancer are significantly higher in the city than elsewhere in the country. Researchers said the data shows that air pollution from Haifa’s factories is directly responsible for half of the cases of cancer in children living in the area.
Yahav has accused the government of contributing to the problem by refusing to release the names of the factories that release the highest levels of pollution. He, too, has been accused of being part of the problem; some locals say Yahav ignored high cancer rates for years.
On Sunday morning, Yahav spoke at Rambam Hospital and declared, “The government of Israel declared war several days ago on one third of Israelis. And all is fair in war.” He went on to explain that he would be forcibly blocking access to factories until the government approves their closure.
Dozens of residents of Atlit, in the Haifa area, protested Monday morning against the factories. Protesters carried signs reading, “End the Pollution,” and “Stop Poisoning our Children.”