16 haredim arrested in Jerusalem for intimidating soldiers, police

(JTA) – Police in Jerusalem arrested 16 young men in the Israeli capital’s haredi neighbourhood of Me’a She’arim after they reportedly assaulted police officers posted to keep soldiers safe.

The incident Friday followed efforts by police to keep extremists from the haredi neighbourhood from assaulting other haredis who serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

Haredi men were allowed an automatic exemption from serving until a 2014 law decreed they sign up for the army or other frameworks by 2017. While thousands of haredi men comply with the new laws, extremists have taken to intimidate those who do.

Police officers and Border Police soldiers were put on alert in Me’a She’arim Friday afternoon, when many soldiers serving in closed bases return to their homes for the weekend. Officers intervened when hecklers began shouting and hurling objects at uniform wearers, Channel 2 reported, prompting police to make arrests.

Subsequently, dozens of men began to huddle around the arresting police officers and some threw stones at them, forcing the Border Police to use crowd dispersal means and make more arrests.

“This activity is part and parcel of a host of planned actions, some advertised and others covert, in Jerusalem and the region that are designed to prevent any attempt to harm uniform wearers,” a Police spokesperson told Channel 2.

Many haredi men still avoid military service, but the army met its 2015 goal for increasing haredi participation in its ranks with 2,300 haredi recruits. Some 1,970 were drafted the previous year.

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