Police brand arms of arrested Haredi protesters with numbers
Police mark Haredi protesters arrested in violent clash last week with numbers, drawing furious comparisons to Jews marked by Nazis during Holocaust; 'Protesters refused to identify themselves as per law, court necessitates marking with serial numbers,' explains police.
The Haredi Jerusalem Faction's "HaPeles" newspaper, trumpeting the struggle against army conscription, published photos of the arrested Haredim along with the heading "Nazi connotations," while also claiming the judge who remanded the protesters admonished the police for the practice.
"The State of Israel behaves exactly like anti-Semitic dictatorial regimes," claimed the Committee to Save the World of Torah.
In response to the photos, originally published by Channel 10 News, police said, "Dozens of Haredi protesters blocked roads, disrupted public transportation lanes and prevented the passage of vehicles for a prolonged period of time and in flagrant violation of the public order.
"Police have arrested dozens of suspects, who—adding insult to injury—refused to identify themselves in another flagrant violation of the law. Criminal proceedings necessitate identification of perpetrators by the police in order to build evidence in the case against them, which is why officers had no choice but to leave markings on the suspects in a manner allowing to track them.
"Thus, the persons arrested were remanded in court, which was forced to discuss the charges brought against them while naming them 'Anonymous' and then adding a consecutive serial number, as the court's records show.
"The Israel Police looks very gravely upon any violent disorderliness and disturbance of the peace and will continue to act adamantly against any entities violating the law and harming the lives of Israel's citizens," the response concluded.
The Lithuanian Jerusalem Faction—a relatively small group that is nevertheless within the Haredi mainstream—is behind the ultra-Orthodox protests against army conscription, which have been disrupting the lives of thousands of Israelis.
They enjoy no representation in the Knesset, but possess considerable public strength now expressed on Israel's streets and roads, in their protest against "a law intended to weaken the power of the Torah and to hack away at yeshivas."
Since the Haredi anti-IDF demonstrations started there have been several incidents of police officers acting violently towards protesters. In one particular September protest in Jerusalem, for instance, a cop was documented shoving a protester so hard he fell on the road.
Other cops were taped kicking protesters, forcefully pulling them, choking them, stepping on them and dragging them across the road. During the aforementioned demonstration, a 16-year-old was taken to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem with a head wound and internal bleeding.
The Jerusalem Haredi population was appalled at the apparent police brutality visited on protesters during the above demonstration. "I have never seen such cruelty," said Moishi of Mea Shearim.
"The young cops mercilessly beat up protesters, seemingly in a contest to see who uses more force," said another eye witness.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh spoke about the police's violence then. "I felt bad watching the videos. I'm not condoning what they did. If an officer lost control, they'll pay for it and some officers may face charges," he said.
The police's Department of Internal Police Investigations (Internal Affairs) commenced investigations into the conduct of the officers involved.
Along those same lines, a female cop was questioned by Internal Affairs Sunday for kicking a Haredi protester during a demonstration in Jerusalem last week. Six people were arrested during the same demonstration for preventing an Israeli Prison Service vehicle from transporting arrested defectors to the hands of Military Police.
Rabbi Avraham Mancks, speaker for the Committee to Save the World of Torah, said protests against the Conscription Law and the High Court's rulings on it have received disproportional treatment.
"We're being treated differently than other sectors with absolute certainty, there's no doubt about it. That different attitude is expressed by documents, arrests, the use of water cannons, violence and even drawing weapons," he said.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community, attacked the Jerusalem Faction last week over the battle its members have been waging against the draft law in recent days, calling them an "empty and reckless flock without a shepherd."
In a letter to the Orthodox Jewish weekly newspaper Yated Ne'eman, the rabbi implicitly criticized the leader of the faction, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, and describing his students as "a flock without a shepherd," who lack piety and commit acts of desecration of the Torah.