Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis protest military draft

AP News
Posted: Mar 28, 2017 1:15 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews are protesting in Jerusalem over the military draft.

Tuesday's protest was one of several following the recent detention of a rabbi's son who refused to report to a draft office.

Exemptions are granted to ultra-Orthodox Jews who declare their values at a recruitment center. Those refusing to report can be detained.

Ultra-Orthodox leaders say they serve the Jewish nation through religious study and prayer and fear integration in the army threatens their insular, pious lifestyle.

Draft privileges go back to when Israel's founders granted exemptions to a few hundred gifted students to help rebuild the schools of Jewish learning destroyed in the Holocaust. But numbers have ballooned dramatically since then.

Exemptions have bred resentment among Israel's secular majority, whose children mostly serve after high-school.