Ultra-orthodox Jews protest military draft in Tel Aviv

Ultra-orthodox Jews protest military draft in Tel Aviv

Protestors block major highway to protest opposition to military conscription policies targeting their community

By Said Amouri

JERUSALEM (AA) - Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) protested a bill that would have them drafted into the military by blocking a major highway in Tel Aviv, according to media reports.

Protestors from the Jerusalem Faction extremist group blocked Route 4 near Bnei Brak in the demonstration.

Jerusalem Faction is a Haredi political organization that opposes drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military.

Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi emphasized Sunday the importance of drafting Haredim into the army.

The Knesset voted last week in favor of a draft bill that was proposed during the previous parliamentary session.

The bill includes provisions for granting military service exemptions to Haredim and lowering the exemption age to 21.

Currently, ultra-Orthodox men can avoid military service at age 18, the standard draft age in Israel, by obtaining annual deferments for religious studies until they reach the exemption age of 26.

The bill will be reviewed by the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee before it undergoes a second and third reading necessary to become law.

Flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, Israel has faced international condemnations amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 attack by the Palestine resistance group, Hamas.

More than 37,400 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and more than 85,600 others injured, according to local health authorities.

More than eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its military operation in the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

*Writing by Mohammad Sio

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