Israel: The Greatest Protests Against Netanyahu for 6 Months · Global Voices

Tens of thousands of people protested today (31,03,2024) in Israel against his government and against the exceptions enjoyed by ultra-Orthodox Jews, avoiding compulsory service for all other Israeli troops. The protests reminded the massive mobilizations made in 2023 across Israel against the far-right Israeli government for reforming the judicial system that promoted and promoted. Organizations, including some who called on mass demonstrations that shocked Israel in 2023, organized a rally outside parliament, Knesset, calling for new elections to change the government. Protesters also called for a more equal distribution of the weight of military service that binds most Israelis. About 600 soldiers have so far been killed by the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip and the Hamas attack on October 7 in southern Israel. This is the highest number of military casualties in many years. Israeli news network N12 broadcast that today was the largest protest in volume since the start of the war. Haaretz and Ynet sites reported that tens of thousands participated in the demonstration. Protesters waved blue and white flags of Israel and shouted “elections now”. Netanyahu’s cabinet faces multi-front criticism of the failure to prevent the 7 October Hamas attack, during which 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 were taken hostage in Gaza, according to Israel always. Israel’s military operation in the Palestinian enclave has escalated a long-term source of friction in Israeli society, which shakes the Netanyahu coalition government. This is the exceptions granted to ultraorthodox Jewish students who absolve them of compulsory conscription. The Supreme Court, which was the recipient of multi-partisan appeals calling for immediate recruitment of superorthodoxes, to respect the equality laws between citizens, had given the government a deadline by Wednesday to submit a detailed draft bill. In Israel, military service for all and all Israelis and Israelis is mandatory, but the trans-Orthodox Jews (“harredi” in Hebrew) can avoid conscription if they devote their time to studying sacred texts of Judaism. This exception was established by the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and has never been lifted since. Given the sensitivity of this issue that reopened a deep rift in the country, the government coalition led by Netanyahu has not reached an agreement due to the objections raised by ultra-orthodox parties participating in the government coalition and do not even want to hear a debate on the issue of enlistment. The government coalition Netanyahu is largely based on the alliance with the two major ultra-Orthodox parties, the Sue and “Unified Judaism of Torah”, which strongly oppose the recruitment of the harredims. A possible departure of these parties from the government would cause the government coalition to fall. At a time when Israel has been at war against Hamas for nearly six months in the Gaza Strip, this exception of super-orthodox people is increasingly criticized in society, a section of which believes that ultra-orthodox Jews should, like others, offer to support the country’s security and serve their military service. Military service (32 months for men and two years for women) is mandatory for young people and young Israelis and Israelis, but almost all ultra-orthodox are exempt from military service, thanks to an agreement that offers young men who attend full-time Talmud schools the opportunity to postpone their military service each year. Young religious women are automatically excluded. The superorthodox make up about 14% of Israel’s Jewish population, according to the Israeli Institute of Democracy (IDI), or nearly 1.3 million people. About 66,000 ultra-orthodox men of military age benefit from this postponement, according to military evidence. Most harredim demand that this discharge be maintained for all students, considering the army incompatible with their values. With the deadline of March 31st approaching the government to establish legislation to resolve this decades-long confrontation over the thorny issue, Netanyahu submitted a last-minute request to the Supreme Court last week calling for a 30-day trial postponement. In a apparently settlement, the Supreme Court gave a deadline to government officials until April 30 to submit additional arguments. However, in a provisional decision, he also ordered the suspension of state funding for students in charge of recruiting from Monday. At a press conference in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said he is confident that a solution will be found on the matter. He added that holding elections would paralyze the country for months, while the war is at its height, as he says Israel is very close to victory. In Tel Aviv, some hostage families and their supporters ruled out a central highway, protesting what they described as Netanyahu’s failure to bring back their loved ones. And yesterday, thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Israeli cities to protest against the far-right government. In Tel Aviv, protesters called for early elections as well as the release of the hostages Hamas continues to hold in Gaza. Protests were also held in other cities, such as Jerusalem and Haifa.