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Exemptions expire: As of today, ultra-Orthodox men required to serve in the IDF

Sunday saw violent clashes between left-wing protesters and ultra-Orthodox residents

Ultra-Orthodox men scuffle with police and "Brothers in Arms" protesters in the ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Meah Shearim in Jerusalem at a protest calling for equal conscription laws. March 31, 2024 (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90).

Starting Monday, April 1, Israeli law obligates the state institutions to begin the process of recruiting ultra-Orthodox men from the age of 18 into the Israel Defense Forces, the Israeli attorney general told the Defense and Education Ministries on Sunday.

“Beginning April 1, 2024, there will be no source of authority for a blanket exemption from military conscription for yeshiva students, and the defense establishment must act to draft them into military service in accordance with the law,” wrote Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, according to the text published on Israel's Channel 13 news.

Baharav-Miara noted that the state needs to tell the High Court what steps it is taking to draft the Haredi community by the end of the month.

She also reiterated the court order forbidding the government to pay stipends to ultra-Orthodox yeshiva schools for students who, until now, were exempt from being drafted into the Israel Defense Forces.

The Israeli High Court ordered the government to stop paying the stipends after the law providing exemptions for most ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men from army service expired, and the government failed to propose an alternative by the March 31 deadline.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community held several, protests in Jerusalem in recent weeks, some of them resulting in violent clashes with the police, as they vowed to die rather than enlist in the army.

Most observers don’t think the State of Israel will enforce the draft until a new IDF draft law is legislated with the assent of the ultra-Orthodox parties in the government.

If Israel were to enforce enlistment before a new draft law, widespread clashes could be expected between ultra-Orthodox men and police forces.

Young men and women attempting to dodge the draft are liable for arrest by the military police, and in extreme cases, will serve out their term of service in jail, according to reports.

The IDF is taking only initial steps at the moment, Channel 12 news reported. For example, the Israeli army began examining the data of the potential recruits ahead of the recruitment procedure, according to the IDF's priorities.

The long-standing tensions between the ultra-Orthodox community and other parts of society who mostly serve in the IDF, recently escalated as many reservists complained of bearing the brunt of military duties during the war, while religious men remained exempt from serving.

On Sunday, activists of the Brothers in Arms group, comprised mainly of IDF reservists, marched through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem to demand a universal military draft.

The march resulted in clashes with residents. Water and eggs were thrown at protesters, and several violent clashes broke out between the two groups, as well as between residents and police officers. One man was arrested during the incident, Israeli media reported.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir condemned Brothers in Arms as a “provocation organization,” claiming it had “engaged time and time again in stirring up fratricidal war and the division of Israeli society.”

“Those who led a campaign of refusal before 7/10, and now continue the tradition of provocation and hatred, are the last to pretend to care about Israel’s security,” Ben Gvir argued.

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

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