Inflated haredi draft numbers: 'The orders came from the top'

Former officer in IDF's manpower directorate who was involved in inflating of haredi draft numbers says orders 'came from the top.'

Tags: Haredi Draft
Arutz Sheva Staff ,

IDF recruitment office, Jerusalem
IDF recruitment office, Jerusalem
Uri Lentz, Flash90

In the wake of last week’s report that the IDF inflated the number of haredi draftees to avoid criticism, a senior officer in the IDF’s Manpower Directorate is claiming that his office received orders to exaggerate the haredi enlistment numbers.

According to a report Monday by Galei Tzahal, the former officer said that high-ranking officials were involved, including at least one Brigadier General.

“The directives came from the highest ranks. I know of at least one Brigadier General who was involved.”

Last week, Kan Reshet Bet reported that the IDF had exaggerated the number of haredi draftees inducted into the army over the past few years in a bid to show the IDF was meeting its quotas for haredi enlistment.

The bombshell report claimed that the IDF had given the falsified enlistment numbers to government offices and Knesset committees, as well as the IDF chief of staff and the Defense Ministry.

In 2017, the IDF reported that 3,070 haredim enlisted, but according to the Kan Reshet Bet report, the true number was less than half of that, at just 1,300. Included in the list of haredi soldiers were non-haredi soldiers, and even some non-religious soldiers.

In 2013, after the Tal Law exempting haredim from army service was overturned, pressure on the army to keep up with enlistment goals grew, leading the IDF's department for haredi enlistment to falsify the numbers in order to stem criticism, the report claimed. In 2011, for example, there were just 600 haredim who enlisted, but the IDF claimed double that number - 1,200, and continued expanding the list each year to show a false rise in haredi enlistment.

At the end of 2018, an army department for haredim was created, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Telem Hazan, who was the Paratroopers' Deputy Commander. When he was asked to report the number of haredim who enlisted that year, he conducted a thorough investigation of all the IDF's units and found that there were 1,650 haredi draftees. However, he was asked to enlarge the numbers or "round up" in order to keep the reports in line with 2017's falsified reports, which claimed 3,070 haredi draftees.

The IDF responded to last week’s report by saying: "Recently the IDF discovered that an error was made when counting the number of haredi soldiers in recent years. When the mistake became known, lessons were learned regarding the criteria for counting and regarding strictness with the body in charge of counting the haredi soldiers within the IDF. We will also note that the numbers for the draft year 2018 (which ended in June 2019) have not yet been finalized.