IDF opens new haredi draft center

New center to help religious soldiers integrate into the IDF. 'We want haredi soldiers to remain haredi by the time they are discharged.'

Tzvi Lev ,

Haredi soldiers from Nahal Haredi
Haredi soldiers from Nahal Haredi

The IDF inaugurated a new center at the Tel Hashomer military facility, whose purpose is to coordinate the different tracks offered to haredi soldiers in the IDF, and to help religious inductees integrate into the army.

Currently, there are various options for haredi soldiers which operate independently from one another. The Haredi Draft Coordination Center aims to put all of the different programs under one roof, including the Nahal Haredi (Netzah Yehuda Battalion), the all-haredi 'Tomer' company, and Chetz haredi paratrooper battalion in the Ground Forces Command and the Intelligence Corp's Shachar program.

Such a move would help haredi soldiers transition to other programs if they have choose to switch tracks. For example, a soldier leaving a combat position in the Nahal Haredi battalion could switch to the non-combat Shachar intelligence unit.

"Integrating haredim into the IDF has become part of the Israeli experience," said Brigadier General Eran Shani, who heads the IDF Manpower Planning Directorate. "The amount of haredim drafting to the IDF is growing and we know how to integrate them and allow them to be released from the IDF still observant of Torah and Jewish commandments."

Shani said that he expected the amount of haredim drafting into the IDF to increase. "We have a need for them both in technology and for social reasons," he said. "It's not an easy road. There are people, institutions, and bodies that will do everything they can to prevent this from happening."

The inauguration comes a few days after the IDF announced that they missed their goal for haredi enlistment in 2017, enlisting only 2,580 out of the 3,200 they had wanted. "We failed our mission," said an anonymous officer.

The Supreme Court struck down the mandatory draft law in September, ruling that it was unconstitutional. The court announced that the law would expire within a year and asked the Knesset to pass a new law instead.

Haredi parties announced in response that they would pass a new law extending haredi draft deferments until 2023, and vowed to include a clause enabling the Knesset to bypass Supreme Court decisions that nullify Knesset laws.