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Ultra-Orthodox Protest Arrests Of Draft-Dodging Yeshiva Students

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Haredi Orthodox protesters declared a “day of rage” to protest the arrests of yeshiva students charged with draft evasion.

Thursday’s day of rage comes after three days of protests in which hundreds of haredi Orthodox demonstrators blocked central roads in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Dozens of protesters have been arrested in recent days, amid charges of disproportionate force by police.

The two arrested yeshiva students were each sentenced to 20 days in military prison for not appearing after several draft notifications.

Thursday’s protests began at the busy Shilat Junction near Modiin Ilit, which is home to a large haredi population. Other protests were due to take place in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, El Ad, Ashdod in southern Israel, and Safed in northern Israel.

Protesters shouted “Death before conscription,” and prison before army service.”

“We’re demonstrating for just one thing: The State of Israel wants to desecrate us and for us to no longer be Haredi. We’ll fight with every fiber of our being; we’d accept death before transgression on this. We’ll fight to our last drop of blood. We will not give up. We’ll die before joining the army,” Moshe Cohen, a yeshiva student from Hadera, told Ynet.

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