Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest Israeli draft

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest Israeli draft

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Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews have been protesting in Jerusalem against plans to make them perform military service.

Israel’s government wants members of the cloistered community to serve in the armed forces and has been trying to reach a deal before a court-determined deadline on 1 August.

However, ultra-Orthodox leaders say their followers are serving the state with their committment to God in prayer and study.

Military service is a highly emotive subject in Israel, where most men and women start a two or three-year service at the age of 18. Many are subsequently called up for reserve duty into their 40s.

Secular Israelis have long complained that their ultra-Orthodox compatriots have never shared the burden of national defence. The issue has raised tensions across the country with thousands of people rallying recently in opposition to the exemption.

In addition, Kadima, the biggest ally of the ruling Likud faction has stressed its determination to quit the government unless an all-inclusive solution is found.