Some 120 ultra-Orthodox men will join the IDF next week and thousands of others have requested to do the same, while Israel is fighting a war in Gaza and may be forced to fight Hezbollah in the north as well. The unprecedented move by 3,000 from the Haredi sector reflects a change that had not been seen before.
Last year a total of 1,200 ultra-Orthodox enlisted in the IDF. Ynet has learned that the first 120 new recruits will begin basic training on Monday and then be assigned medical roles.
The recruits are ultra-Orthodox with experience in the field of search and rescue and emergency medicine and are expected to be quickly integrated into combat support positions during the war. Data from the IDF's personnel department shows that since the beginning of the war, about 3,000 ultra-Orthodox men asked to volunteer for military service, of which 2,100 have already filled out forms. The IDF examines each candidate according to their suitability in the immediate time frame.
The ultra-Orthodox have historically been exempt from military service under pressure from their political representatives in the Knesset and in the coalition, who say that the role of the Haredi man is to study the Torah and not to enlist. This has been a point of contention in Israeli society where service in the military or national service in the community is compulsory and most Israelis enlist in the IDF at 18 for a three-year service for men and a two-year service for women.
The military also decided to recruit ultra-Orthodox volunteers to have more 'working hands'. These recruits will not undergo basic military training, but a quick enlistment process. Those young people will be recruited to fill administrative positions and will help facilitate the funerals for the fallen and murdered, accompany the families of the victims and fill roles in the logistics department.
The IDF says that they are swamped with requests from Ultra-Orthodox to enlist, and recognize a historic opportunity to integrate them into army, civilian, or security service frameworks, which is why they are acting quickly.
According to military sources, it is right to start the recruitment process now, while Israel is fighting a war that is expected to last for at least a few months. Starting as soon as possible will allow those Ultra-Orthodox to support the national effort. The IDF says that the growing rate of volunteers shows a dramatic change in ultra-Orthodox society.
Sources in the ultra-Orthodox sector say that the desire to support the country in times of need, including in military service, has greatly increased since the Hamas terror attack. However, the officials added, that the IDF must be very careful in how it frames the change, and above all consult with rabbis throughout the process.