Dienstplicht ultra-Orthodox Israël infographic
Graphic shows history of ultra-Othodox military exemptions.
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POLITIEK

Chaos rond ultraorthodoxe dienstplicht Israël

By Duncan Mil

March 27, 2024 - Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet and most Israelis oppose his draft bill to perpetuate or even extend historic exemptions from military service to ultra-Orthodox Haredi men.

Two members of Israel’s three-person war cabinet have said they cannot support the proposed legislation that continues to exempt ultra-Orthodox Jews from mandatory military service. Both centrist cabinet minister Benny Gantz and defence minister Yoav Gallant distanced themselves from Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“The nation cannot accept it, the Knesset [parliament] must not vote for it, and my colleagues and I will not be members of the emergency government should such legislation pass in the Knesset,” said Gantz.

In addition, dozens of commanders in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reserves sent a letter warning that the current proposal for an ultra-Orthodox draft bill will deepen inequality in Israel and harm security.

The reservist commanders’ letter, which was sent to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday and made public on Tuesday, warned that the government was trying to “solve the need for more soldiers in the easiest way for politicians—increasing the burden on those who are already serving.”

Since last October’s Hamas attacks, Israel has activated around 360,000 reservists. Of the 13,000 eligible candidates, only 1,200 Haradi men join the IDF annually.

The plan is to increase the time conscripts and reservists serve in the military. At the same time, most ultra-Orthodox men are exempt from military service, which will create an “extremely unequal” situation, the commanders charged in their letter.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 27/03/2024; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images
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