An ultra-Orthodox Jewish child holds a pair of handcuffs as thousands of Jewish children attend a protest
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish child holds a pair of handcuffs as thousands of Jewish children from the Eda Haredit sect, that does not recognize the State of Israel, protest on the outskirts of Jerusalem's conservative neighborhood of Mea Sharim against the Tal law, which exempts ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students from mandatory military service. © Jack Guez - AFP
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish child holds a pair of handcuffs as thousands of Jewish children attend a protest
AFP
Last updated: July 17, 2012

Ultra-Orthodox stage mass anti-draft rally in Jerusalem

Around 5,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated in Jerusalem on Monday to protest against plans to make them serve in the Israeli army or do some other form of national service, police said.

"Some 5,000 people gathered in the ultra-Orthodox quarter of Meah Shearim to protest against plans to compel them to serve in the army or perform national service," spokeswoman Luba Samri said, indicating that the demonstration had gone off without a hitch.

Some demonstrators, all of whom were wearing the traditional black suits of the ultra-Orthodox, were handcuffed together to demonstrate their anger over the government's plans to expand compulsory military or national service.

The new draft arrangement, which is still being debated by the government, is also expected to apply to Israel's Arab community, which numbers around 1.6 million, or one fifth of Israel's entire population.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government is currently locked in a dispute over the wording of legislation to replace the so-called Tal Law, which allowed thousands of ultra-Orthodox men to avoid military service, which is otherwise largely compulsory for all Israelis.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the law, which is set to expire on August 1, was unconstitutional and failed to ensure an equal burden of service for all, ordering that the legislation be rewritten.

Arab Israelis are set to stage their own mass protest against the proposed changes to the law on Wednesday with a rally in Nazareth in the north of the country.

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