End of Exemption Era: Israel AG Says Ultra-Orthodox Community To Integrate into Military Service
By The Media Line 

Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community members will be drafted into the army starting Monday, Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara announced on Sunday, effectively ending the exemptions traditionally granted to yeshiva students from military service.  In a letter first published by Channel 13 news,  the attorney general writes, “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.”

For years, the ultra-Orthodox community has benefited from a blanket exemption, allowing full-time yeshiva (Jewish educational institutions) students to forego military service, an intense point of contention within Israeli society. Despite attempts to legislate a new framework that would satisfy the court’s demands, the government has failed to enact a law that addresses the issue comprehensively.

In 2017, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that such exemptions were unconstitutional and mandated the government to find a solution. However, a June 2023 temporary government measure allowed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to temporarily continue the practice of not drafting Haredi students despite the expiration of the law specifically governing such exemptions. This stopgap measure expired at midnight on Sunday, thus necessitating the Attorney General’s announcement.

Those who support ultra-Orthodox enlistment argue it is a step toward fairness and national unity, ensuring that all citizens contribute to the country’s security. Alternatively, many Haredi leaders and community members argue that their spiritual pursuits and dedication to religious study contribute to the nation’s welfare, serving as a different—and equally important—form of protection for the Jewish state.

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