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Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest in Israel conscription row


Israel

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest in Israel conscription row

Israeli police have clashed with ultra-Orthodox Jews angry at cuts in funding to their theological schools and a crackdown on those trying to avoid military service.

Protests were held across the country.

In the southern city of Ashdod, one soldier told the demonstrators what he thought of them.

“I have not seen my wife and my four-month-old baby boy for two weeks,” he shouted. “Join the army. Be a man there, not here!”

Demonstrators were sprayed with water as they danced defiantly in the streets of Ashdod.

A water cannon was also used to disperse a crowd blocking the main road to Jerusalem. In all, some three dozen people were arrested.

Military service is compulsory for most Israelis.

The government has backed moves to end a practice which has exempted tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews who were in full-time religious study.

New legislation has not been completed but authorities are toughening enforcement of the existing law.

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