Even before Sunday's government decision
to circumvent the High Court's ruling
and okay the exemption of haredim from military service, the IDF
had a hard time enlisting haredim at a rate of more than a few hundreds a year.
The expiration of the Tal Law
last August was meant to change the situation on the ground, however since, no alternative law has yet been put into legislation.
In light of this legislative vacuum, the IDF's Manpower Directorate has put on hold both the widespread enlistment of haredim and the dispatch of letters to 16 and 17-year-old ultra-Orthodox teens , inviting them to begin their screening process. The actualization of either scenarios seems very unlikely.
Haredim at IDF induction center (Photo: Yuval Chen)
The Defense Ministry shrugged off political claims that the decision was an attempt to circumvent the High Court's decisions on the subject, which deemed additional exemptions unconstitutional.
Nonetheless, a source within the ministry claimed that since the expiration of the Tal Law, a total of 1,500 haredim, aged 16 and 17, have arrived at IDF recruitment centers.
There, the youths have begun undergoing the mandatory screening process, which includes a psychological evaluation as well as a full body physical, together forming the future soldier's military profile. However, it is far from clear whether such a process will bear fruit and if anyone of them will actually serve.
According to the source, up until now these youths would have arrived at the induction center only to receive their "religion is their profession" exemption (mandated by the Tal Law to haredi students). More over, these youths - as well as an additional 2,000 who will be called up in the next eight months – will be eligible to serve only from August 2013.
The Knesset's call. (Photo: AFP)
"Whether or not those 1,500 will be enlisted or not is for the Knesset to decide," the source said. He added that with the expiration of the Tal Law, all other arrangements were also annulled, including a system which refers haredim to civil service - the civilian alternative to IDF service.
Hence, according to the source, at a de facto level these arrangements were kept in place either until a government decision was put into law or until August 2013, "whatever comes first".
In this regard, the source stressed that a larger number of these haredim are parents in their early 20s or later, whose chances of actually serving in the army are little to none, thus making the dilemma not between military to civil service, but rather between civil service to no service whatsoever.
In the background of the haredi draft exemption uproar, Ynet has learned that next month is set to bring with it the enlistment of some 30 haredi soldiers to the Navy thus raising the number of ultra-Orthodox recruits in 2013 to 100.
During the last three years the Navy has been the most consistent in haredi recruitment, with special two-year "glat kosher" service programs in which haredim are trained in mostly technical positions.
According to the Navy some of these haredi soldiers were involved in Operation Pillar of Defense and an impressive 90% of those who finish their army service successfully integrate into the work force.