Sunday, September 17, 2017
A peaceful demonstration against the forced Israeli draft of religious men and yeshiva students was broken up with seldom-seen police brutality, extreme even for the usually brutal Israeli police – at least when they are interacting with the ultra-Orthodox.
Several thousand ultra-Orthodox demonstrators gathered in the Meah Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon, to protest against the recent ruling of the Israeli supreme court that declared the military exemptions for religious Jews as unconstitutional. The ultra-Orthodox consider themselves conscientious objectors, as by Torah-law it is forbidden to even establish a Jewish state in the Holy Land before the coming of the messiah – and certainly to serve in its army and wage war against the nations. Until the recent ruling there had been a very limited exemption, albeit one being continuously curtailed.
Sunday’s protest was also precipitated by the arrest of Abraham Kohn, a 23-year-old American citizen (and grandson of one of the elder, distinguished community rabbis) who arrived in Israel and was arrested at the airport for his failure to enlist in the Israeli army, although he lives in the US. He was sentenced to 20 days in prison, to include the Jewish high-holiday of Rosh Hashana.
After hearing speeches from rabbis and community activists, the demonstrators proceeded to march through the streets, blocking traffic in numerous smaller thoroughfares. When the police moved in with water-cannons and mounted police to disperse the crowd, many lay down in the road in peaceful civil-disobedience.
The police, however, despite being “civil servants” were far from peaceful. Reuters quotes police spokeswoman Luba Samri as saying that protesters blocked streets and threw stones at police officers. Video footage, however – again according to Reuters – “showed officers kicking, punching, and pushing” demonstrators; some were dragged and even thrown across the street. No videos have emerged showing any violence on the part of the protesters.
Eight were arrested; many were injured – including at least three who required urgent medical attention. One 16-year-old student was admitted to the hospital in serious condition with a concussion and internal hemorrhaging; his condition was later downgraded to moderate, but he is still hospitalized.
The justice department, in light of the videos and photographs so vividly showing the sadism and gleeful brutality, has agreed to open up an internal investigation. As per past experience, however, little hope is held for any justice against the “patriotic” Zionist police officers.