Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox supporters demonstrated around the country on Thursday in protest over the arrest by military police of a yeshiva student who allegedly failed to report to an army enlistment center to arrange an exemption from military service.
It appears, however, that the detained man, Moshe Hazan, not only failed to report to the enlistment center but has also failed to show up at his yeshiva in the town of Elad, northeast of Tel Aviv. Hazan was arrested this week in Eilat, allegedly while attempting to enter a nightclub dressed as a secular man.
The demonstrations followed a call by the head of an extremist ultra-Orthodox religious faction, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.
Members of the faction have expressed embarrassment over the matter, but said the rabbi had committed to protest in support of anyone who resists the draft.
The protesters sought to block a number of major highways on Thursday in a bid to have Hazan freed, which led to confrontations between yeshiva students and police. In Beit Shemesh, a policeman sustained head injuries from a rock thrown at him.
A number of people were arrested in the demonstrations, including at least 13 in Bnei Brak and six at the Nitzanim junction. In Jerusalem, protesters impeded traffic in the area of Shabbat Square, and police reported that 10 people were arrested for disturbing of the peace.
The legal and political controversy over exemption from the draft for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students has been a high-profile political issue periodically over the past several years.