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Police: Ultra-Orthodox soldier attacked in Jerusalem

July 9, 2013 11:20 P.M. (Updated: July 10, 2013 3:50 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli police on Tuesday rescued an ultra-Orthodox soldier who was attacked by a group of his coreligionists in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood, a spokesman said.

"Police rescued an ultra-Orthodox soldier who had taken refuge inside a building in Mea Shearim after being attacked by dozens of haredim," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, using the Hebrew word for ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The soldier had taken refuge inside a building in the middle of the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighbourhood after he was attacked by people throwing stones and called for help.

But when the police arrived, they too came under attack by stone-throwers who tried to stop them from rescuing the soldier, Rosenfeld said.

"Police were also attacked by 100-150 haredim who threw stones at them to prevent them from entering the building," he said.

The soldier was rescued unharmed and four of the stone-throwers were arrested, he added.

The incident came as a national debate rages over the issue of ultra-Orthodox Jews serving in the army.

The Israeli government on Sunday approved a draft law which would spell the end of a system which has seen tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox exempted from military service.

The bill, which is vehemently opposed by the ultra-Orthodox community, must now pass three readings in parliament before becoming law.

It seeks to amend the current situation in which ultra-Orthodox men have automatically been exempted if they are studying in religious seminaries, or yeshivas.

Military service is compulsory in Israel, with men serving three years and women two.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews make up roughly 10 percent of Israel's population of just over eight million.

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