Israeli military has for years inflated the number of ultra-Orthodox recruits in order to reach the recruitment target for Haredi soldiers, Israel's national broadcaster KAN reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the IDF’s Haredi recruitment division is said to have essentially “forged” the numbers by counting the religious (who are not ultra-Orthodox), and sometimes even secular, recruits in order to meet the needed criteria.
The investigation, conducted by Kan News journalist Carmela Menashe, found that in 2017 the official number of Haredi recruits (as reported by the IDF) stood at 3,070, only 130 fewer than the recruitment target of 3,200 set by the government in 2016.
In reality, however, only 1,300 soldiers were in fact ultra-Orthodox, less than double the reported figure.
Six years prior, in 2011, the number of reported recruits stood at 1,200, while in reality only 600 soldiers were in fact from Haredi background.
In 2018, the IDF’s Haredi administration, which was established the same year, has started to independently count the number of the ultra-Orthodox recruits. They had discovered significant gaps between their numbers to the ones officially reported by the military in the previous years.
They found that in 2018 only 1,650 ultra-Orthodox soldiers had been recruited, almost half of the figures officially reported by the military the year prior.
As a result, the head of the administration - Lt. Col. Telem Hazan - was apparently asked by the army officials to report a different number, closer to the one reported in 2017.
According to the official press release, the number of Haredi IDF recruits in 2018 stood at 2,480, a 20% drop from 2017 and 800 fewer than the 2016 recruitment target set for the military.
"The IDF recently discovered a mistake when it comes to our system of counting the ultra-Orthodox soldiers,” said the army in a statement. “Once we became aware of the mistake, we learned our lesson when it comes to setting a standard for counting the ultra-Orthodox recruits."
Both the IDF chief of staff and the defense minister have been made aware of the report about the inaccurate recruiting figures.
"The lie that was exposed this morning is particularly disturbing,” said Uri Keidar, Executive Director of Israel Hofsheet (Be Free Israel) movement. “This numerical bluff is what led to discrimination of women in the army and what undermined the joint service order, supposedly in order to respect the large number of the ultra-Orthodox recruits,” he said.
“A government that continues to avoid addressing the issue of religion and state, will have on its hands a state that continues to lie to itself when it comes to military, marriage and public transport on Shabbat."