In recent months, Israeli authorities are grappling with frequent protests led by what they describe as "extremists" who prefer not to join the army.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are sprayed with water by Israeli police as they demonstrate against the detention of members of their community who failed to report to a military recruiting office, in Jerusalem November 26, 2017. (Photo Reuters)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are sprayed with water by Israeli police as they demonstrate against the detention of members of their community who failed to report to a military recruiting office, in Jerusalem November 26, 2017. (Photo Reuters) (AA)

A series of protests that have emerged in Jerusalem in recent months have put the Israeli authorities on their toes,  and they show no signs of abating. 

The protesters again poured into streets on Sunday over the government's alleged attempts to "compel" people to serve in the military. In return, the police arrested 36 men.

Earlier this year, Israel's High Court of Justice struck down a law exempting ultra-Orthodox men engaged in religious study from serving in the army, saying it undermined the principle of equality.

But the court later suspended its ruling for one year, asking the government to pass a new law.

Israeli law requires men to serve two years and eight months in the military on reaching the age of 18, while women must serve for two.


Many people believe that the court decision raised the possibility for the government to pass a draconian law that leaves people with no other option but to serve in the military. 

Israeli police said that during Sunday's protest they arrested those who either "used violence against security forces," or tried to block traffic in Jerusalem.

In another demonstration over the same issue last week, at least 32 demonstrators were arrested in Jerusalem.

One of the main triggering points was the jail sentences passed by the Jaffa Military Court, in which 11 "ultra-Orthodox" men were sent to prison from 40 to 90 days for dodging military service. 

Members of the Israeli security forces detain an ultra-Orthodox Jew during a demonstration against Israeli army conscription in Jerusalem on November 26, 2017. (Photo AFP)
Members of the Israeli security forces detain an ultra-Orthodox Jew during a demonstration against Israeli army conscription in Jerusalem on November 26, 2017. (Photo AFP) (AFP)

The issue is rooted in a decades-old debate over young ultra-Orthodox men studying in Jewish seminaries. Whether or not they should be called up for compulsory military service, like the rest of Israel’s Jewish population, is a highly combustible question that could cause serious political and social implications. 

 After reaching the age of 18, men must serve for 32 months and women for 24.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition has a strong support from ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, who have often acted as kingmakers in Israeli politics.

And many of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish people are against serving in the military for various reasons. 

Some do not recognise Israel, believing a Jewish state is not allowed before the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Others argue that religious study is just as important to Israel as military service, or that ultra-Orthodox soldiers would be confronted irreligious behaviour.

Around 10 percent of Israel's eight million people are considered ultra-Orthodox.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies