Thousands of Jewish Ultra-Orthodox Men Clash with Israeli Police in Jerusalem Protest

Thousands of Jewish ultra-Orthodox men clashed with Israeli police in central Jerusalem on Sunday during a protest against a Supreme Court order for them to begin enlisting for military service. The protest, which started peacefully, turned violent as the crowd made its way towards central Jerusalem. Protesters threw rocks and attacked the car of an ultra-Orthodox Cabinet minister. Israeli police used water cannons filled with skunk-scented water and mounted police on horses to disperse the crowd, but the demonstration was still not under control late Sunday.

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision last week ordering the government to begin drafting ultra-Orthodox men could potentially lead to the collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition. Ultra-Orthodox parties, which are key members of the coalition, have won exemptions for their followers to skip military service and instead study in religious seminaries. However, this arrangement has bred resentment among the broader public, especially during the ongoing war against Hamas.

The ultra-Orthodox parties and their followers argue that forcing their men to serve in the army will destroy their generations-old way of life. Tens of thousands of men rallied in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood to protest the order, with signs criticizing the government and calling for no male drafts. The ultra-Orthodox parties have not yet announced whether they will leave the government in protest, which could potentially lead to new elections.

In a separate incident, Israeli troops carried out an airstrike in the northern West Bank, killing a Palestinian militant and injuring five others. The strike targeted a house in Nur Shams, an urban refugee camp known as a stronghold of Palestinian militants. The Israeli military confirmed the attack, stating that militants inside the house were responsible for recent attacks on Israeli targets. The occupied West Bank has experienced increased violence since the war in Gaza began in October.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of over 600 Israeli soldiers and thousands of Palestinian civilians. Israeli forces have been engaged in close-quarters combat and airstrikes in Gaza City, targeting Palestinian militants. The latest operation has led to the displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians, who are fleeing to find shelter in overcrowded and poor health conditions.

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