Hareidi soldiers sworn in
Hareidi soldiers sworn in Gavriel Dabush

As the government worked over the past year on a bill that would require hareidi youths to serve in the IDF – or possibly serve time in prison – leaders of the hareidi community swore that youths would go to jail en masse if necessary to avoid being taken out of yeshiva study halls. Yet the numbers don't lie; even without a law on the books, the number of hareidi youths who have joined the IDF shot up in the past year. According to the latest IDF numbers, there has been a 39% increase in the number of hareidi youths joining the army over the past year.

With that, the army said, the hareidi community still has not reached the numerical goal set by the IDF for recruits. The army was hoping for 2,000 hareidi recruits in 2014, while a total of 1,972 joined, Still, that was a marked improvement over 2013, when 1,416 joined, and 2012, which saw 1,327 hareidi youths enter IDF service.

Many of those joining the army are coming from the ranks of those who in the past would have joined the National Service. A total of 801 hareidi youths signed up for National Service this year, compared to an expected 1,300.

Commenting on the figures, Science Minister Yaakov Peri said “the statistics prove that the Draft Law is paving the way for a social and constitutional revolution in Israel. We have passed the stage of legislation despite the dark prophecies that have not come to pass. Today, five months after the bill was passed into law we are happy to be witnesses to a new social revolution in Israel.”