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AP PHOTOS: Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest in Israel

Sunday - 3/2/2014, 7:14pm  ET

Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews rally in a massive show of force against plans to force them to serve in the Israeli military, blocking roads and paralyzing the city of Jerusalem, Sunday, March 2, 2014. The widespread opposition to the compulsory draft poses a challenge to the country, which is grappling with a cultural war over the place of the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli society. With secular Jews required to serve, the issue is one of the most sensitive flashpoints between Israel's secular majority and its devout minority. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Clad in traditional black suits and hats, hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews have rallied in Jerusalem, protesting a bill that would see members of the community drafted into Israel's armed forces.

Police say Sunday's protest saw some 300,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews march through the streets. Some carried the Torah as loudspeakers blared prayers. Women and children also took part, with a major thoroughfare in Jerusalem closed so ultra-Orthodox women could gather in accordance with the community's strict separation of the sexes.

Since Israel's founding in 1948, the ultra-Orthodox, who make up about 8 percent of Israel's 8 million citizens, largely have been allowed to avoid military service, compulsory for most Jewish men, to pursue their religious studies. The draft bill would require the army to draft an increasing number of ultra-Orthodox Jews each year, with the goal of enlisting 5,200 ultra-Orthodox soldiers -- roughly 60 percent of those of draft age -- by mid-2017.

Here's a gallery of Associated Press images showing Sunday's protest by ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.


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