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Israeli Supreme Court Rules Haredim Must Be Drafted

State of the Union: The unanimous ruling noted that “the burden of inequality is more acute than ever.”
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Credit: WikiCommons

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Haredi men must be drafted into Israel’s military. In its decision, the court unanimously decided to end the blanket exemptions from army service that ultra-orthodox yeshiva students have received for decades.

The two hardline conservative members of the court, Noam Sohlberg and David Mintz, as well as the moderate Yael Willner, all favored drafting the Haredim. 

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Haredim have been exempt from the draft due to their studies in yeshivas. Since the start of the October 7 conflict, the divide between Haredi and secular Israelis has grown, particularly as the Haredis form much of the base of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and were exempted from military service. 

The ruling came about as the decades-old exemption in the Law for Security Service had expired in June 2023. The drafting of Haredim was delayed as the Israeli cabinet told the IDF not to begin drafting such men for another ten months, so that a new law with an exemption could be passed. The court stated that the Israeli cabinet lacked the authority to unilaterally dispense Haredi yeshiva students from the draft. Due to the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in October 2023, such a renewal has lost political steam. 

The court’s decision stated that the Israeli cabinet’s decision to not enforce the Law for Security Service with regard to drafting Haredis had created “severe discrimination between those who are required to serve” and those exempted. The court also stated “in these days, in the midst of a severe war, the burden of inequality is more acute than ever”

There are 63,000 Haredi yeshiva students who will immediately  be called up for service under this ruling. This number dwarfs the 1,800 Haredis who volunteer for the IDF each year, and Haredis make up less than one percent of the IDF. Arab Israelis are still exempt from the draft and were not covered by the ruling.