March 2 - Hundreds of thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest a draft law that could potentially end decades of military exemptions. Gavino Garay reports.
Hundreds of thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest at the entrance to Jerusalem, according to authorities. But it's not a protest familiar to other nations, rather, it's being conducted as a mass prayer. Israeli authorities say hundreds of thousands attended. They're protesting a draft law could potentially end decades of military exemptions. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WOMAN FROM ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWS, SARAH, SAYING: "It is important to tell the state of Israel that we are opposed to their political philosophies - that we feel that the contribution that the Haredi elements of society are making will help the army and through our contributions on the religious spectrum we are arm in arm with the army helping the state of Israel." The ultra-orthodox - or Haredim - say the study of holy scriptures is a foundation of Jewish life. Haredim make up about 10 percent of Israel's population. They say scholars devote themselves full-time to the tradition and think army service would infringe upon their religious practice. But they have drawn resentment from many Isaelis who accuse them of living off the state, as most of the men are unemployed and make a living off donations. Last week, Ultra-Orthodox leaders called on their community to attend the protest against the new legislation that is being drafted in parliament. Despite the protests, the legislation is expected to pass later this month.