In historic ruling, High Court says government must draft Haredi men into IDF

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men near a sign reading ‘army recruitment office’ during a protest against the drafting of Haredim to the military, in Jerusalem, May 1, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Published June 25, 2024

Unanimous decision also says state is barred from financially supporting yeshivas whose students are eligible for the draft, noting, ‘Burden of inequality is more acute than ever’

In a landmark ruling on Tuesday, the High Court of Justice ruled unanimously that the government must draft ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students into the military since there is no longer any legal framework to continue the decades-long practice of granting them blanket exemptions from army service.

The court ruled that a government decision from June 2023 instructing the army not to begin drafting eligible Haredi men — after the law allowing for blanket military service exemptions expired — was illegal, and that the government must therefore actively work to conscript ultra-Orthodox recruits to the IDF.

The justices did, however, state that they were not telling the state how many Haredi yeshiva students to draft, indicating that the process could be gradual, though they warned the government that the process must now begin.

The court ruling also permanently barred the state from funding ultra-Orthodox yeshivas for students who are studying in them in lieu of military service, asserting that those funds were bound up in the terms of the IDF service exemptions which now no longer exist.



RELATED: Israel’s high court orders the IDF to begin drafting ultra-Orthodox men

Published June 25,, 2024

Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled unanimously that the military must begin drafting ultra-Orthodox men for compulsory service, a landmark decision that could lead to the collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition as Israel continues to wage war in Gaza.

The historic ruling effectively puts an end to a decades-old system that granted ultra-Orthodox men broad exemptions from military service while maintaining mandatory enlistment for the country’s secular Jewish majority. The arrangement, deemed discriminatory by critics, has created a deep chasm in Israel’s Jewish majority over who should shoulder the burden of protecting the country.

The court struck down a law that codified exemptions in 2017, but repeated court extensions and government delaying tactics over a replacement dragged out a resolution for years. The court ruled that in the absence of a law, Israel’s compulsory military service applies to the ultra-Orthodox like any other citizen.



RELATED: Israel’s top court rules ultra-Orthodox Jews must be drafted into military, in blow to Netanyahu

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protest in Jerusalem against compulsory military service, on April 11,.
Published June 25, 2024
Jerusalem CNNIsrael’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the government to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, delivering a blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that has the potential to unravel his ruling coalition.

The court also ordered the government to withdraw funding from any religious schools, or yeshivas, whose students do not comply with draft notices.

“The government wanted to distinguish at the level of law enforcement between individuals based on their group affiliation,” the court said in its ruling. “It was determined that by doing so, the government seriously harmed the rule of law and the principle according to which all individuals are equal before the law.”

Ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi) Jews have, for all intents and purposes, been exempt from national mandatory military service since Israel’s founding (Palestinian citizens of Israel are also exempt.) Ultra-Orthodox men spend much of their early lives out of the workforce, entirely devoted to religious study. They view yeshivas as fundamental to the preservation of Judaism, as important to Israel’s defense as the military.

Most Israelis believe ultra-Orthodox men should serve in the military, according to recent polls, but Haredi parties have been staunchly opposed to efforts to rescind the draft exemption. Netanyahu’s fragile government coalition relies on two Haredi parties – United Torah Judaism and Shas – to govern. He has for weeks been trying to advance legislation through Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, that would enshrine in law a draft exemption for Haredi men.




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