Israeli police in 'Holocaust' row after numbering arms of ultra-Orthodox Jews


Hebrew media sources described the act as having 'a Nazi connotation' - but Israeli police won't apologise

Israeli security forces remove ultra-orthodox Jewish demonstrator from road in Jerusalem on 17 October (AFP)
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Last update: 
Monday 23 October 2017 17:12 UTC

Israeli police have refused to apologise to ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters after their hands and wrists were marked with ink-coloured numbers, an action described by some Hebrew media sources as reminiscent of Nazis.

In an interview on MakoTV on Monday, Merav Lapidot, Israel’s police spokeswoman said that "we had to [mark them]," in response to a question about whether the police move was wrong or not.

Meanwhile dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews blocked Jerusalem Light Rail route in protest at the marking, as part of on-going demonstrations and rallies in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv against military service.

'All of them were wearing the same clothes, and they all looked the same'

- Israeli police spokeswoman

Last Thursday, police arrested 120 ultra-Orthodox Jews protesting against the military draft, arguing that studying Torah at the seminaries is just as important to Israel as military service.

The 27 ultra-Orthodox protesters who failed to sufficiently identify themselves at the police station were numbered on their hands and wrists.

Anti-military draft protesters attacked the move on social media.

File October 23, 2017

Translation: "Close your ears and eyes tightly and say for God's sake that the 'secularists love us'. Forget about who came to power with Bibi [Netanyahu] government who does not need ultra-Orthodox Jews."

“The law says you have to identify yourself. It’s not up to what you think," the Israeli police spokeswoman said.

“According to the Israeli law we could mark people by their mobile, how they look, what they are wearing, in order to take them to court. In this case, we couldn’t mark them other than this way. All of them were wearing the same clothes, and they all looked the same.”

She added that it was impossible to take photos of the detainees to identify them in court.

Protests block roads

A document seemingly issued by the Israeli Trial Court in Jerusalem on 22 October showing the 27 numbers of the defendants without their names or their ID numbers.

Hapeles, a Jewish ultra-Orthodox newspaper, described the act by the Israeli police as having "a Nazi connotation".

Yedioth Ahronoth, quoting Hapeles in Hebrew, said that “the state of Israel acts as an anti-Semitic tyrannical regime".

During World War Two, Nazis identified prisoners in concentration camps, including Jews, by tattooing numbers on their arms and other parts of their bodies.

The Israeli police arrested hundreds of ultra-Orthodox draft-dodgers last month, resulting in brutal clashes between officers and protesters, who blocked roundabouts and key roads in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Biet Shemesh.

The protests and arrests followed a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court that struck down a law exempting ultra-orthodox men engaged in religious study from military service, saying it undermined equality.