An internal IDF probe into the draft of ultra-Orthodox men into the military in recent years has revealed a massive misrepresentation of the numbers of people actually inducted.
The conclusions by the commission, released Thursday, cited "data manipulation, deliberate and systematic violation of the law and severe professional negligence" on the part of the army.
According to the probe commissioned by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, the numbers of Haredi men drafted was vastly inflated, sometimes by more than 100%, in reports to the Knesset and Defense Ministry.
The findings led Kochavi to formally censure several IDF officers, including the head of the IDF's Manpower Directorate, Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz.
The commission of inquiry, which lasted for more than two months and was headed by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Roni Numa, found that the army failed to meet its recruitment goals from 2014 to 2018.
The army had previously said that ultra-Orthodox draft figures have surged.
The military launched the investigation after an expose by public broadcaster Kan in early December found that the military "doubled or even tripled" figures on the number of ultra-Orthodox men drafted in the past several years.
The law sets annual draft targets to be met by the Haredi community, defining as Haredi anyone who studied for at least two years at a religious institution between the ages of 14 and 18.
But the IDF personnel overseeing the draft process inflated the numbers of the ultra-Orthodox draftees by including people who were not members of the community.
The inquiry said the errors also stemmed in part from the lack of a clear, legal definition of who is ultra-Orthodox.
IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said some recruits, including women and newly arrived immigrants, were counted as ultra-Orthodox when they were clearly not.
The investigation instead found "serious, systemic failures that also related to professional capabilities as well as command responsibilities," Conricus told reporters.
Conricus said the errors stemmed from "severe professional negligence" within the Manpower Directorate.
"No direct instructions were given by senior commanders ... to manipulate or corrupt the data in any way or to provide false reports in order to meet recruitment goals," Conricus said.
"We did not find political pressure or financial motives."
Instead, he said personnel in the directorate "gave themselves a very liberal interpretation of the law and of what they could do, which resulted in a conscious, intentional and systematic behavior that went beyond the definitions of the law."
The inquiry found that the main motivation was to meet quotas.
The politically powerful ultra-Orthodox political parties have used their influence over the decades to protect draft exemptions that allowed young religious men to instead pursue religious studies in insular seminaries.
The exemptions, coupled with generous welfare subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men, have been a source of resentment among the Jewish secular majority, who are legally required to serve.
The change in the law was met with massive opposition by the Haredi community, which has staged multiple protests across Israel.
The ultra-Orthodox are also often schooled in separate systems that offer little of the core curriculum, leaving them ill-prepared for the modern workforce and breeding a culture of poverty.
Experts have long warned that the system is weighing down the economy and is unsustainable in the long run, calling on the government to integrate ultra-Orthodox men into the job market.
The now-discredited military effort to enlist young ultra-Orthodox men was seen as an important step in this process.