Riots in Jerusalem

Religious Jews riot in Jerusalem over draft bill Sept. 2017 (JOL News)

By Cheryl Hancock-Watts, Reporting from Israel


JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (ANS – October 21, 2017) — After spending a nice day in Jerusalem, I walked with a friend to the Light Rail, which would take me to my car on the other side of the City.  To my surprise the train was not running. Suddenly a Religious Jewish man came riding his bicycle down the tracks with loud speakers announcing that a large faction of Religious Jews (Heredim) were demonstrating on the tracks, so there would be no trains leaving the station.

The demonstration began because a large sect of the Heredim, refuse to abide by the “Recruitment Law”, and the Police went into their neighborhoods to arrest the draft dodgers. Instead of the young men going quietly with the police, rioting broke out.

The Heredim began to physically fight with the police and blocked the streets.  They smashed windows, burnt trash dumpsters and rolled them down the streets.  Friends visiting Israel were trying to drive to their apartment when they were blocked by the Heredim. They blocked, and even attacked others trying to get through the area. They called for a “Day of Rage” and Heredim around Israel rioted in their cities also. I eventually made it to my car and drove away in relief!

In Israel, military service is mandatory for most youth. They are drafted into the Israel Defense Force (IDF) at age eighteen.  Boys serve for three years and girls for two, but there are exceptions.  There are 1.5 million Arab Israeli citizens and their children are not required to serve in the IDF, though some volunteer. Also, from the beginning of the State of Israel in 1948 Religious Jewish Yeshiva Students (those who study Torah) were also exempt from serving. Their belief is to study Torah, not to work or join the military.

Religious News block public transport smallerIn 1948 when Israel became a nation, Prime Minister Ben Gurion, allowed this small sect of Religious Jews to be exempt from military service. Presently, that small sect has grown into the majority of Religious Jews also known as Heredim.  It is believed by other Jews that this sect will become the majority in Israel because of their large families. The Movement for Quality Government in Israel has been working to draft all Religious youth.

“The “Recruitment Law” was passed in 2014.  There is still dispute over the Recruitment Law and this large sect of Heredim decided not to adhere to the Law. “The masses of the House of Israel won’t rest and won’t keep quiet until the removal of the draft decree that hovers over the heads of Yeshiva students,” the faction’s message read.

Photo captions: 1) Religious Jews riot in Jerusalem over draft bill Sept. 2017 (JOL News). 2) Blocking Jerusalem Light Rail during demonstrations 10/19/17 (Times of Israel). 3) Blocking Jerusalem traffic before rioting.10/19/17 (Times of Israel). 4) Religious Jews block public transport in Jerusalem 10/19/17 (Channel 2 News). 5) Cheryl and her husband, Len, outside the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem.

Cheryl and Len outside the Knesset smallerAbout the writer: Cheryl Hancock-Watts is a native Californian who moved to Israel in May of 1999 as a Christian Journalist.  She gets involved with the various people groups of Israel taking aid to those in need, while bringing truth concerning Israel via the media to the West.  Cheryl has been a member of the International Press Association since 2001 and a member of the Government Press Office in Jerusalem. She provides radio interviews from Israel to stations in the U.S., and is a free-lance writer for various media outlets. Cheryl married Len Watts in 2014, and together they continue the work in Israel while speaking internationally in churches, and through radio and TV broadcasts. You can receive their “Israel Updates” at:


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