Following several years of sharply increasing numbers of ultra-Orthodox Haredim being conscripted into the ranks of the IDF or serving civilian national service, this increase slowed down significantly last year. This is shown in data the state presented to the High Court of Justice as part of deliberations over a petition to do away with the Tal Law on yeshiva student conscription.
Since 2008 the IDF has been running several programs whose aim is to increase the number of ultra-Orthodox soldiers. Part of the progress has been the increase in the number of soldiers serving in the Nahal Haredi battalion, a combat unit. However, the real change occurred in the absorption of Haredim in technical specializations, including the Air Force and Military Intelligence.
According to data presented by the State Attorney’s office, in 2009 there was a 110 percent increase in the number of Haredim who enrolled for military or national service (from 823 to 1,732). On the other hand, the number of participants in the programs stood at 2,020, an increase of 16 percent.
The slowing down in the rate of increase of new Haredi conscripts may indicate that the current solutions offered by the IDF have been maximized. It may also mean that the absence of significant external pressure means there is no real incentive for Haredim to apply for military or civilian service.
The total number of Haredim in military or civilian service stood in 2010 at 3,628, of which 2,048 were in the IDF and 1,580 in civilian national service.
Recently the state presented updated data to the High Court on the issue of Haredi conscription, based on the Gabai Committee’s work, which recommended to the government to exempt all yeshiva students aged 22 or higher from military service, as long as they agree to do a year’s civilian service.
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