Yeshiva Student Whose Arrest Sparked Protests Gets 56 Days In Military Jail

An ultra-Orthodox draft dodger, whose arrest sparked a number of protests last month in Jerusalem, was sentenced on Sunday to 56 days in military jail.

Yeshiva student Yisrael Meir Toledano was arrested some three weeks ago for failing to report to the IDF recruitment office.

His time in detention while awaiting proceedings will count toward time served.

According to ultra-Orthodox news site Kikar Hashabbat, another hearing will be held to determine whether Toledano will be allowed out for the upcoming Passover holiday.

At last week’s protest, three police officers were wounded and 27 protesters were arrested during violent protests against the arrest.

The demonstrators blocked roads and threw rocks and other objects at police in protests centered in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the nearby city of Beit Shemesh.

Toledano’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has encouraged the protests against his arrest. He leads a splinter faction opposed to the authority of the Lithuanian community’s principal leader, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, known as the Jerusalem Faction.

A statement from the Committee to Save the World of Torah earlier this month said that all attempts to use “brutality” against Torah students by detaining them for lengthy periods or giving them jail terms would be met with courage by other Torah students who were “ready to give their lives.”

The protests would continue until all those under arrest were released from prison and returned to their “natural place” in the study hall, the statement added.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews represent about 10 percent of the Israeli population and live in compliance with a strict interpretation of Jewish laws.

Some of them view military service as a source of temptation for young people who then leave the closed world of prayer and religious study.

The ultra-Orthodox are generally exempt from serving in the army if they are studying in religious schools known as yeshivas, although the issue is controversial for secular Israelis, and attempts have been made to roll back the longstanding exemption.

Either way, ultra-Orthodox students called to the draft must register at the recruitment office before seeking an exemption.

Some extremist rabbis, among them Auerbach, prohibit their followers from even registering.

Early last month, a number of effigies of ultra-Orthodox soldiers were found hanging in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim, in an incident that police said would be investigated as incitement.

One of them had a sign attached to it that read “hardak out,” a derogatory term for ultra-Orthodox Jews who join the army and which sounds similar to the Hebrew word for insect.

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