"The phenomenon and its style are as serious as the Der Sturmer (Nazi propaganda newspaper) attacks," said Brigadier-General Gadi Agmon, head of planning in the IDF's Personnel Directorate, during an open discussion at the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
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The committee's discussion on the issue of equal share of the burden revealed an increase in the level of harassment and aggression towards haredi recruits. According to the data presented, since the Peri Committee began to take steps towards equality of burden, haredi soldiers have experienced increased isolation, violence and harassment.
The harassment includes physical assault, spitting at synagogues, slashing of tires and vandalism. "It is a phenomenon that is constantly exacerbating, a campaign of unprecedented nature that is pre-planned" said Brig.-Gen. Agmon.
Pashkevils against haredi recruits (Photo: Niv Sela, 24 News)
(Photo: Niv Sela, 24 News)
The IDF representative noted that "there is condemnation and aggressive speech on the haredi extremists' pashkevils (street posters). These expressions are meant to condemn them (the soldiers), remove them from the congregations, synagogues and neighborhoods in which they live.
"We have opened an information center for haredim. We have not received the full extent of reports yet, but we received some 80 reports from Rehovot, Beit Shemesh, Beitar, Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and more."
Another issue that was discussed is the removal of haredi soldiers from education institutions. "We have seen this as a marginal issue in the past. The decision of those who choose to join the army is not easy." Agmon noted that the Military Advocate General turned to the Attorney General and requested to launch criminal investigations on the matter.
Knesset Member Merav Michaeli (Labor) turned to the police representatives and asked them to step up security around haredi recruits. "The discussion should revolve around the harm to individuals," she said.
"The ones who are hurt are individual soldiers. It doesn't matter how they call it – price tag, women of the wall, haredi recruits, the pattern stays the same. The police need to understand this is political attack. There are entire sectors that feel free to hurt others. The police need to better deal with this. For example, I cannot understand why they don't patrol the streets to which haredi soldiers come home to."
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