Israel to Begin Drafting Ultra-Orthodox Men into Military Service

The defense minister has approved conscripting members of the community starting next month, according to reports

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has approved a plan to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) beginning next month, according to the Defense Ministry and local media reports. Until now, members of the ultra-Orthodox community have been exempt from IDF service.

This announcement follows a landmark decision by Israel’s Supreme Court on June 25th, which declared that there is no legal basis for exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from military service. This community has largely been exempted from the draft since Israel’s founding in 1948.

The authorization, according to reports, came after a Tuesday meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and other officials. Following discussions, Gallant approved the process of issuing draft notices to ultra-Orthodox Jews over the coming month.

The implementation of this step, according to the statement quoted by the media, will be “in accordance with the [IDF’s] absorption and screening capabilities, and after a significant process of refining the existing data regarding potential recruits.”

Last month, the High Court of Justice not only invalidated the exemption granted to ultra-Orthodox Jews 76 years ago but also ordered Israeli authorities to halt funding for religious schools, or yeshivas, whose students avoid the draft.

The judgement came amidst growing frustration from secular Israelis as the war in Gaza enters its tenth month and Israel faces a manpower shortage. Earlier this month, Gallant stated that the country’s army needed approximately 10,000 new soldiers.

In Israel, military service is mandatory for most citizens – men and women – who typically begin serving at the age of 18. Israelis are required to serve 24-32 months in the IDF.

The Israeli government launched a large-scale military operation in Gaza in October, shortly after a cross-border incursion by Hamas in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken captive. Approximately 116 hostages are still believed to be held in Gaza.

The hostilities have resulted in over 38,000 deaths and over 87,000 injuries in Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave, according to Gaza’s health authorities.

The death toll among Israeli troops since the start of the operation stands at 325, and 681 on all fronts since the Hamas-led incursion, according to official data.