Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest pending Israeli draft


JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews blocked highways across Israel Thursday to protest attempts to draft them into the army, clashing with club-wielding police who aimed water cannons and fired stun grenades at large crowds of black-garbed men.

The violent protests came just days after a Supreme Court ruling ordered funding halted to ultra-Orthodox seminaries whose students dodge the draft and laid bare one of the deepest rifts in Israeli society, highlighting the fundamental disagreements between its secular majority and a devout minority about the character of the Jewish state.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have for years been exempt from military service, which is compulsory for other Jewish Israelis. The arrangement caused widespread resentment and was featured prominently in last year’s election.

 

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