IDF Reveals its Plans on Hareidi Draft
Three months after the expiration of the Tal Law, which regulated exemptions from IDF service for Hareidi yeshiva students, the State informed the High Court that the IDF would begin drafting 18 year old Hareidi students beginning next summer. The plan was revealed as part of the State's response to a petition by groups demanding that the army begin drafting Hareidi students, with the exemptions furnished by the Tal Law now expired.
While the IDF was anxious to comply with the law and send out draft notices to Hareidi students, the State said in its statement to the Court that the process needed to be gradual. “There are serious issues involved in organizational planning and execution” for drafting Hareidi students, including ensuring that the food they receive are of the rabbinical supervision they require, and that they can serve in surroundings where no women are working," the statement said. As such, the army plans to implement a partial draft beginning in 2013, with more soldiers drafted each year through 2015, when a full draft of Hareidi 18 year olds is expected.
With that, the State said, the IDF had no plans at this time to draft Hareidi students age 19 and older. The technical challenges in establishing service units for those age groups was beyond the current resources of the IDF, and no decision would be made on sending those candidates draft notices until the Knesset passes a new law on drafting Hareidi yeshiva students.
Several new brigades will be established for the recruits, the State said. However, the statement said, the IDF would much prefer to work within the framework of a Knesset law, which would take into account the needs of the IDF and its ability to absorb Hareidi recruits, which, the State stressed, was a very challenging issue. Absent that, the IDF was looking for guidance from the government as to whom will be eligible for an exemption as a “genius student,” a category the Court decision said could be applied to a limited number of students who excel in their studies.
In its statement, the State said that it believed that its plan lived up to the letter and spirit of the High Court decision to strike down the Tal Law, in response to the petition by the Movement for Quality Government and other groups demanding equal imposition of the draft law on all segments of Israeli draft-age youth.