"I expect leaders of the haredi sect to support you, seeing as your faith and theirs are not contradictory," Peres said. Reported attacks were perpetrated by haredim.
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The president added "You cannot live without faith, but you cannot live on faith alone."
He noted that the State must protect itself from those who wish to harm it and told the haredi soldiers "The nation is proud of you for your courage."
Some of the soldiers who attended the meeting left the Presidential Residence in civilian attire, so as to remove any emblems identifying them as IDF soldiers.
J., a soldier residing in the capital who was attacked on account of his military service, had requested to be granted free passes to public transportation without wearing uniform. Soldiers in uniform ride Israeli public transport for free, but seeing as haredi soldiers are attacked in their neighborhoods, they often change out of their uniform, thus paying for transportation.
"If they walk into the neighborhood wearing uniform they could be attacked," J. said, and when they're not, their families suffer in dealing with social criticism. In some cases, even the family doesn’t know that a son is in the army."
'Just because I'm a soldier they wish I were dead'At the same time that the meeting was taking place, elsewhere in Jerusalem, a religious soldier was beaten by two haredim who were cursing and spitting at him. A brawl between the three ensued, and the two attackers fled the scene.
The soldier did not require any medical care and according to the Jerusalem police, searches for the suspects were still ongoing.
The soldier said that a haredi man told him "you should burn in hell."
"When I asked him, 'why are you saying that?' he spat in my face and punched me in the jaw. I tried to grab him and then we got into a fight," the soldier recounted.
He added that after they started fighting, haredim from the adjacent yeshiva started crowding around him, yelling at him to stay away from the neighborhood.
"It hurts. These are people who live in my neighborhood, that I grew up with and worked with, and just because I'm a soldier they hate me and wish I were dead," the soldier said.
Unlike recent incidents in which ultra-Orthodox attacked haredi soldiers, the serviceman who was attacked Sunday was a non-haredi religious Jew (wearing a crocheted yarmulke).
Last week, a haredi soldier was attacked by dozens of haredim in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood. The soldier ran into a nearby building and called in police forces, which managed to rescue him unharmed.
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