Haredim getting arrested protesting draft legislation (video clip)

The Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant approved a groundbreaking plan on Tuesday to commence the drafting of ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military. This decision is set to escalate tensions within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's already strained right-wing coalition, which relies heavily on the support of two ultra-Orthodox parties staunchly opposed to such measures.

The ultra-Orthodox political factions have long maintained that conscription exemptions are vital for preserving their constituents' commitment to religious seminaries, shielding them from the melting-pot dynamics of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) that could challenge their traditional customs and way of life. This vehement opposition comes at a critical time when Israel's army seeks to fortify its ranks amidst a prolonged nine-month conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Following extensive consultations with top military officials, Gallant sanctioned their recommendations for what is being termed a "first call-up" of ultra-Orthodox men into the military over the forthcoming month. The Defence Ministry's statement clarified that this initial order involves a preliminary screening and evaluation process to identify potential recruits. Typically, initial call-ups are issued to Israelis once they are over 16 years old, with mandatory military service commencing at the age of 18.

Under Israeli law, citizens are required to serve in the military for a duration of 24-32 months. While members of Israel's 21 percent Arab minority are mostly exempt, with some volunteering to serve, ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students have largely enjoyed exemptions for decades. However, this status quo was upended last month when Israel's Supreme Court decreed that the state must begin drafting ultra-Orthodox seminary students into the military.

The longstanding military exemption for the ultra-Orthodox has sparked significant controversy and protests in recent months. Many Israelis have expressed outrage over the perceived inequity, arguing that the burden of military service and the associated risks, particularly in conflict zones like Gaza, should be shared equally among all citizens. In response, ultra-Orthodox demonstrators have taken to the streets, blocking roads and rallying under the defiant slogan "death before conscription."

Gallant's decision marks a pivotal moment in Israel's military and social landscape, potentially reshaping the fabric of its defence forces and the societal roles of its ultra-Orthodox population. As the nation braces for the implementation of this contentious plan, the reverberations within Netanyahu's coalition and the broader Israeli society are expected to be profound and far-reaching.

Sign Up For The Judean Newsletter

I agree with the Terms and conditions and the Privacy policy