Over 4,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews have demonstrated in central Jerusalem protesting against a possible policy change which may force conservative Jews into the Israeli military.
Carrying signs reading 'no serving in the enemy's army' and 'you will not manage to convert us using blackmail and threats', the protesters prayed in public and listened to speeches in Yiddish. The demonstration enraged the Israel National Council for the Child, whose chief criticized the use of children as so-called "gimmicks" in demonstrations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently announced that he was committed to a more equal distribution of civil duties in Israeli society while his biggest coalition ally stepped up threats to quit the government over the issue of expanding the draft.
Military service is a highly emotive issue in Israel, where most men and women start a two- or three-year period of service at the age of 18 and many are subsequently called up for reserve duty. However, many devout Orthodox Jews have been exempted so they can pursue religious studies, angering the more secular majority.
A government report has recommended reducing the exemptions from the current 50,000 per year to 1,500 by 2016.