Israel contemplates drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews

(MENAFN) Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has approved a comprehensive plan to commence drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into the country's armed forces starting from next month, as confirmed by the Defense Ministry and reported widely in local media. This significant move marks a departure from decades-long exemptions that the religious community has historically enjoyed from compulsory military service in Israel.

The decision follows closely on the heels of a landmark ruling by Israel's highest court on June 25, which declared that there is no legal basis for exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from conscription. This exemption had been in place since the founding of Israel in 1948, sparking contentious debates within Israeli society regarding equality and national duty.

According to reports, Defense Minister Gallant authorized the implementation of the draft process following a thorough assessment meeting on Tuesday, attended by key military officials including Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi. The initiative will involve issuing draft notices to eligible ultra-Orthodox individuals over the course of the next month, with careful consideration given to the Israeli Defense Forces' capacity for absorption and screening of potential recruits.

A statement from the Defense Ministry highlighted that the implementation will proceed in accordance with meticulous data refinement regarding potential recruits, ensuring a systematic integration process into the armed forces. This marks a significant policy shift aimed at addressing Israel's ongoing manpower needs amid prolonged security challenges, including the protracted conflict in Gaza.

The court ruling not only invalidated the historical exemption for ultra-Orthodox Jews but also mandated the cessation of state funding for religious schools, or yeshivas, whose students have traditionally avoided military service. This decision underscores a broader societal shift in Israel, where secular Israelis have expressed growing frustration over perceived inequalities in national service obligations.

Earlier statements by Defense Minister Gallant emphasized the urgency of bolstering Israel's military ranks by recruiting approximately 10,000 new soldiers, reflecting the strategic imperative to enhance national defense capabilities amidst regional uncertainties.



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