Jerusalem Protest Live: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Men Clash with Israeli Police

On Sunday, central Jerusalem became a battleground as thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men clashed with Israeli police. The protest was sparked by a recent Supreme Court ruling mandating the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men for military service. This decision threatens to further destabilize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Historically, ultra-Orthodox Jewish men have been exempt from mandatory military service in Israel, a policy established shortly after the founding of the state in 1948. This exemption was granted in exchange for their support and was intended to allow them to dedicate their lives to religious studies. Over the decades, the number of ultra-Orthodox men claiming this exemption has grown significantly, leading to increasing tensions within Israeli society.

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling aims to put an end to this long-standing policy. The court deemed the exemptions discriminatory and ruled that all Israeli citizens, regardless of their religious background, should share the burden of national defense. This decision has been highly controversial, igniting fierce debates about equality, national service, and religious freedom.

The protests on Sunday were a direct response to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men took to the streets, blocking roads and clashing with police. The demonstrators view the ruling as an attack on their religious lifestyle and a threat to their community’s autonomy.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes at a precarious time for Prime Minister Netanyahu. His coalition government is already fragile, and this ruling could further destabilize it. The ultra-Orthodox parties, which are key allies in his coalition, have vehemently opposed the court’s decision and are likely to pressure Netanyahu to find a solution that will maintain their exemptions.

Adding to the complexity is the ongoing conflict in Gaza. As the war rages on, the Israeli government is under immense pressure to present a united front. The internal strife caused by the Supreme Court ruling could weaken the government’s ability to respond effectively to external threats.

The clash in Jerusalem is a manifestation of deeper societal and political tensions in Israel. The Supreme Court’s ruling challenges a policy that has been a cornerstone of the ultra-Orthodox community’s relationship with the state. As the situation evolves, it remains to be seen how Prime Minister Netanyahu will navigate this crisis and whether a compromise can be reached that addresses the concerns of all parties involved.