Jerusalem – State Attorney Bans Haredi Protests Outside IDF Officers’ Homes

The State Attorney has informed Chief of Police Roni Alsheich he is entitled to ban protests by extremist haredi activists outside the private houses of IDF personnel.

The letter was issued on Monday against a background of a vitriolic and often violent campaigns by radicals from the haredi community against haredi men who enlist in the IDF and IDF personnel involved in attracting recruits from the ultra-Orthodox community.

Extremists have in particular staged numerous protests outside the private residences of army personnel heading haredi recruitment. Some military personnel subsequently received death threats.

According to State Attorney Shai Nitzan and Deputy Attorney General Raz Nazri, there is no reason under the statutes dealing with freedom of assembly to allow protests outside private residences of public servants, when protestors could instead demonstrate outside their place of work.

Therefore permits should not be issued for protests to be held outside the houses of haredi IDF soldiers and recruiters, and police should disperse any protesters who do show up at these sites, the letter said.

The letter referenced three men in particular whose homes have been the site of numerous demonstrations: Major Yaakov Raashi in Beit Shemesh; head of haredi recruitment in the IDF Rabbi Menachem Katz in Bnei Brak; and Kiryat Gat municipal chief Rabbi Moshe Havlin who, together with his wife, was physically assaulted by extremists who broke into their home.

Nitzan said that at times dozens and even hundreds of demonstrators gather outside military personnels’ residences without a permit, frequently shouting and cursing, sometimes in the middle of the night.

One protest prevented Katz and his family from leaving their home in Bnei Brak for four hours one evening.

The letter said the government has placed high priority and “strategic importance” on increasing haredi enlistment to the IDF, and putting an end to such protests was critical to fighting the delegitimization campaign waged by extremists against haredi men serving in the army.

“We are aware of the operational difficulties which are likely to be created by dispersing protests, but nevertheless, set against the high price of these protests for these public servants in terms of their right to privacy, and that of their families and neighbors, and the influence of such protests on haredi enlistment and their continued service in the IDF, and bearing in mind the public interest of this issue, we request that you make every effort to prevent and disperse these protests as quickly as possible,” the letter said.

For the last four years, haredi extremists have waged a campaign of incitement and delegitimization against community members serving in the IDF, which they see as an attempt by the state to eradicate their religious identity by secularizing them in the army.

The campaign includes mass demonstrations; acts of civil disobedience such as blocking major traffic arteries and road junctions; physical and verbal assaults against haredi men in IDF uniforms; and a savage campaign of incitement in fliers, posters, pamphlets and other forms of written media against the notion of haredim serving in the army.

Numerous such incidents take place every week.

On Tuesday afternoon, before the Shavuot festival began, extremists in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood in Jerusalem attempted to assault haredi men in IDF uniforms.

This incident however turned out to be the latest in several undercover operations by the police, in which police personnel dressed as haredi soldiers walk through an extremist neighborhood and arrest anyone who attacks them.

The assailants reportedly threw bottles and other items at police personnel, cursed them and massed around them.

Seven suspects, including two minors, were arrested by the police in Tuesday’s operation.

“The Israel Police will not allow anyone to harm or do injury to anyone in uniform,” a police statement said.

“In dealing with this phenomenon, the police in Jerusalem and the area is carrying out pro-active operations which have led to the arrest of suspects and the prevention of additional assaults,” the police stated, adding that such operations would continue as long as necessary.

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