The Israel Defense Forces updated the forecast for non-recruit rates ahead of a debate in the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. The data indicated that the rate of non-enlistment on the grounds of "Torah is His profession" is on the rise and is slated to reach 12.8% within the next two years.
In March 2009 the IDF issued a data book which included a prediction concerning non-enlistment among various sectors in the Israeli society. The chapter that discussed haredim not enlisting based on the Tal Law determined that in 2012 their rate would stand at 11.8%.
A statistical analysis held recently updated the data and the rate of non-recruits on these grounds now stands at 11.5%. In practice this means thousands of additional youths won't be recruited into IDF service.
A source in the military said that various projects in the Air Force, the Intelligence Department and other IDF branches have succeeded in recruiting several hundreds of ultra-Orthodox youths, but also admitted that the increasing rate of non-recruits poses a major problem which needs to be addressed by the appropriate ranks.
"In a couple of years we'll get to a state where it will be hard to make the most out of the available manpower," a senior officer at the IDF's Human Resources Directorate told Ynet.
"Apart from the fact that the burden would fall on less shoulders, we may reach a situation where those shoulders would not be able to carry the heavy burden, not mentioning the feeling of inequality," a military source said.
The source further stressed that "now is the time to take action" with motivation high among those who do enlist, alongside the drop of recruitment rates on mental health grounds. "The IDF relies on manpower and will be faced with challenges that could not be met with an ever diminishing army," the source said.
Members of the Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden participated in a joint steering committee of military and civilian elements and are calling on the defense minister to take immediate action on the matter.
"The haredim who subscribe to "Torah is His profession" are only required to attend yeshivas. In practice they study in colleges, use the time to acquire a profession and on occasion receive living costs from the State during their studies. This is a scandal and blatant discrimination of those of do serve in the army," a statement issued by the forum noted.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak who ordered the establishment of the Tal committee in 1999 recently expressed reservations about the way in which thousands of haredi youths are being granted exemptions from service. His office told Ynet that Barak champions the principal of equal share of the burden.
"The defense minister endorsed and is endorsing the Tal Law. Notwithstanding, he believes that over the years the implementation of the law veered from its initial purpose and therefore a reevaluation needs to be made in order to revert to the initial aim," the statement read.