Hareidi soldiers
Hareidi soldiersIsrael news photo: Flash 90

A meeting of the Knesset's Committee for the Equal Burden of Service Law, headed by MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), revealed Wednesday that the enlistment of hareidi-religious men to the IDF may help Israel's Mossad, Shin Bet, police, fire department and other bodies address an expected shortage of manpower. 

Major General Gadi Agmon, the IDF representative at the hearing, stated that 40% of IDF recruits currently being sent to serve outside the IDF will be redirected to the military, in an effort to shift manpower to where it is needed most. The decision would affect a number of institutions, including the Mossad, the police force, the fire department, the Shin Bet, and others, which receive recruits from the IDF. 

Director General of the Interior Security Ministry, Rotem Peleg, noted that the hareidi-religious volunteer rate in non-IDF security branches is higher than in the mainstream IDF, and that hareidi enlistment could fill the manpower gaps that the police, Shin Bet and other bodies will experience as a result of the shift in IDF policy. 

"A year ago, we started working towards the possibility that we needed to significantly expand the number of hareidi-religious soldiers in our ranks," he stated at the hearing. "We see the great opportunity in this process for all parties involved -- both for hareidim and for the operational bodies. In the future, we intend to absorb hareidim into all of the core roles in the different organizations. This will only be possible after the approval of the new enlistment law. A wide ranging move like this requires budgetary shifts, of course, and we are already discussing this with the Finance Ministry.”

The hareidi enlistment bill has caused controversy for months, as it pushes slowly through the Knesset. Lately, much of the discussion has revolved around the nature of punishment to be meted out to hareidi draft-dodgers. Likud is reportedly set to decide whether or not the punishment will be criminal in nature - as originally proposed - or financial, as Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) prefers. 

In the meantime, hareidi integration into the IDF continues, wth some of the hareidi recruits being directed to the Border Police and Intelligence