Menu

WORLD

Ultra-Orthodox Jews clash with police, block roads over plan to enlist them in Israeli army

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man looks at street performers as the play music near the Tower of David in Jerusalem's old city, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)The Associated Press

Israeli police say thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews are blocking highways across the country to protest plans to enlist them into the military.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the simultaneous demonstrations on Thursday have caused large traffic jams. He says the demonstrators are clashing with police, who are dispersing them with water cannons.

Some 400 are trying to block the entrance to Jerusalem. In the southern city of Ashdod, the demonstrators hurled stones at police, injuring two. Rosenfeld says eight protesters were arrested.

The riots follow a Supreme Court ruling this week ordering funding halted to ultra-Orthodox seminaries whose students dodge the draft.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have for years been exempt from service, which caused widespread resentment among Israel's secular majority. The ultra-Orthodox claim the military will expose their youth to secularism.