Hareidi men at recruiting office in Jerusalem
Hareidi men at recruiting office in JerusalemIsrael news photo: Flash 90

There will be a new law aimed at increasing hareidi-religious army enlistment within a month, Minister of Internal Security Yitzchak Aharonovich predicted Wednesday.

He estimated that 3,500 young hareidi men will enlist in the next two years, and that “over the next several years, that number will increase to 6,000.”

Many of the new recruits will go to Internal Security services including the police and Prison Services, he said.

The Committee for Equality in the Burden of Service, also known as the Perry Committee, is currently researching options regarding hareidi army recruitment. The majority of hareidi men were previously exempt from service under the Tal Law, which granted an automatic deferral for full-time Torah students with incentives aimed at their enlistment such as Nahal Hareidi, but the progess was slow and many in the hareidi community remain strongly opposed to the idea of IDF service for all.

Aharonovich said he believes that Arab men, too, should be required to serve. Arab citizens of Israel could do national service in place of military service, he suggested.

Aharonovich was asked Wednesday about the situation in Meron this year. Tens of thousands were trapped at the site as traffic snarled following Lag Ba’Omer celebrations.

He defended police action, saying, “I have been following the celebrations at Meron for thirty years, and I have never seen so many people celebrating, and despite that it was a big success.”

There were nearly half a million people present, he said, “People waited two or three hours at most in the parking lots. Police prevented people from sleeping in unsafe tents and huts that could have become firetraps, so many wanted to return home [Saturday] night. There were delays, but the transportation system never collapsed.”