Three years after the launch of an ultra-Orthodox campaign of incitement against Haredim who serve in the IDF, the police arrested three suspects on Tuesday.
Dozens of Haredim protested the arrests outside the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Wednesday morning. Protesters were holding up signs calling for an "end to the persecution of religion" and demanding to release the suspects. Several protesters were detained.
Two Haredi men were arrested in Bnei Brak and a third was arrested in Modi'in Illit. The offenses they are suspected of are violation of privacy and insulting a public official. The court extended the remand of two of the suspects by five days.
Police investigation found that the suspects allegedly produced booklets and put up pashkvils (wall poster or broadside in ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhoods often containing polemic text), with photos of Haredi soldiers serving in the IDF, as well as their names, ID numbers, phone numbers, addresses, marital status and religious affiliations. The booklets and pashkavils also included the IDF role of these soldiers, and other details from their army profile.
Some of the pashkavil posters included caricatures of Haredi soldiers as pigs, and warned the public against those they called "chardakim" ("charak" is a Hebrew acronym that stands for Haredim who are frivolous and scoff at halacha) who "hunt the souls" (woking to recruit) of others.
The posters described one soldier as a "common shababnik, bitter, and unsatisfied" ("shababnik" is slang in ultra-Orthodox culture in Israel for a Haredi deprived youth or a yeshiva dropout), another was a "frivolous youth" who is drawn to "trading in souls," a third's "hatred for Torah scholars is driving him insane." Another is described as "a young punk" who is searching for meaning in "the military missionary system," while yet another is a "hedonist on a spiritual decline."
Many of the soldiers and officers whose personal details were included in these pashkavils and booklets received phone calls and e-mails which included insults, curse words and threats.
Officials involved in the investigation said the police received the names of four suspects, alongside evidence allegedly linking them to the campaign - but not all of them have been arrested yet.
Police said the investigation was still ongoing and that further arrests were possible.
There have been several violent assaults against IDF soldiers in uniform at Haredi neighborhoods over the past few years. Several months ago, a Givati officer was attacked in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood when he went there to visit two of his soldiers.
An ultra-Orthodox IDF officer recently filed a complaint to the police against those behind the incitement campaign.