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DM Gallant announces IDF will begin drafting ultra-Orthodox, first orders could come next month

IDF head of manpower says there is need for quick buildup of forces due to current conflict

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men near a sign reading "army recruitment office" during a protest against the drafting of ultra-Orthodox Jews to the Israeli army outside the army recruitment office in Jerusalem, May 1, 2024. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Tuesday that the IDF would begin the process of drafting eligible members of the Haredi community in accordance with the recent landmark High Court ruling, and that the first order could be issued as early as next month. 

On Tuesday morning, Gallant held a meeting with senior IDF officials to discuss preparations for drafting ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jews into the military.

Participating in the meeting with Gallant were IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, his deputy, Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eliezer Shkedi, Manpower Directorate Chief Maj.-Gen. Yaniv Asor and chief military advocate, Maj.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi. 

Alongside the issuing of the draft orders, the government will also prepare an information campaign informing the Haredi community of service tracks that have been tailored to the ultra-Orthodox based on religious regulations. 

Following the meeting, Gallant’s office released a statement saying the defense minister and IDF chief “agreed in the discussion that this is an operational need and a complex social issue. The principle of 'successful recruitment' must be followed in order to achieve meaningful service for members of the ultra-Orthodox sector, while maintaining their way of life, and in order to bring about an increasing number of recruits in an orderly process.” 

The decision to draft ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students comes after the failure to pass a law regulating the draft of the Haredi population by the coalition – a result of internal disagreements between coalition parties. 

Last month, Israel's High Court of Justice ruled unanimously that the state must recruit ultra-Orthodox religious students into the Israeli army and that the government cannot continue to transfer state funds to yeshivas (schools for religious studies) to eligible students who did not receive an exemption from military service. 

“The High Court ruled that the difficulty of the government's position is heightened by the ongoing war against terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip and on the northern front, over a period of more than 8 months,” the ruling stated.

“It was emphasized that the current position of the defense establishment is that there is a concrete and urgent need for additional manpower. The High Court has made it clear that in the midst of a difficult war, inequality in the burden is more acute than ever – and requires advancing a sustainable solution to this issue.” 

The head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Yaniv Asor, noted that the length of fighting in the current conflict, as well as the unprecedented number of casualties and the need to build up a larger army force, require the IDF to act quickly. 

"The IDF operates in accordance with the instructions of the political echelon and subject to the law," Asor stressed. 

In a closed hearing of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, Asor reportedly said the IDF intends to recruit 3,000 additional eligible members of the Haredi community every year for the next two years, in addition to the 1,800 already being recruited annually, according to Army Radio.

This means the IDF's annual recruitment target from the ultra-Orthodox community will be set at 4,800 recruits.

Asor noted that to achieve this recruitment goal, a substantial number of recruitment orders will need to be issued. However, the exact number of orders to be sent out has not yet been determined.

The ultra-Orthodox community is largely opposed to mandatory military or government service and has threatened to dissolve the government coalition over the issue. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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