Haredi enlistment rising - but IDF still not meeting goals

The number of haredi Jews drafting into the IDF continues to rise, but IDF is still far from reaching its goals, report finds.

Tzvi Lev ,

Haredi soldiers
Haredi soldiers
Hillel Meir

A new report published by the Defense Ministry on Monday showed an increase in the number of haredi men enlisting in the military, but found that the IDF is nevertheless falling short of its recruitment goals.

According to Channel 2, there are now over 7,000 haredi men in uniform. In 2016, 2,850 haredi soldiers joined the army, an increase of 400 from the previous year but still short of the IDF's goal of 3,200 haredi men enlisting.

Out of the 2,850 who drafted in 2016, 1,307 chose to draft into special programs for members of the haredi community, such as the Netzach Yehudah (Nahal Haredi) and Tomer battalions. The report showcases the increasing popularity of the IDF's haredi technological units such as Shachar, where over 2,000 haredi soldiers serve, the majority of whom are married and between the ages of 21-28.

Seven years ago, the Gabai Committee, headed by former Prime Minister's Office Director-General Eyal Gabai, decided on recruitment targets, and the Peri Committee, led by MK Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid), decided to adopt the goals. The recruitment targets rise steadily every year.

Although haredi recruitment does not meet targets, the IDF is encouraged by the fact that the number of haredi recruits is nevertheless rising steadily, and that the gap between actual enlistment and target numbers is relatively small.

The haredi draft issue has taken on increased importance in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling striking down the Draft Law, which extended draft deferments to haredi Jews until 2023. The haredi parties in the Knesset are examining several options, and have vowed to advance legislation enabling the Knesset to bypass Supreme Court decisions that nullify Knesset laws, despite vehement opposition by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.