In an effort to prevent a rift with the Haredi leadership, army officials have decided to abandon the plan to hold information days for Haredim about the military service and employment tracks available to them. The army invested large amounts of money in establishing induction centers for Haredim, but now it is feared that the Haredi leadership will order young men to stop reporting to the centers, even to sort out their draft exemptions.
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The rabbinical councils of all the Haredi parties have threatened explicitly that they will issue such an order on the eve of the passage of the new draft law. MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Brig. Gen. Gadi Agmon of the army’s personnel directorate met over the past few days with Haredi rabbis and Knesset members, attempting to calm their agitation over the inclusion of criminal sanctions in the draft law.
According to Shaked, this is not a sweeping cancellation of the induction centers for Haredim, but rather a cancellation of the requirement to attend the information days. “We see the integration of Haredim into the army and the job market as a matter of great importance. But in light of the dialogue with the Haredi leadership, it has been decided not to run the induction centers for Haredim as they are currently structured. Instead, we will meet the Haredi leadership halfway and not show films there whose purpose is to convince young Haredi men to join the army. Those who do not wish to hear about the options of military iservice and employment will not be required to do so.”
According to the original plan, every young Haredi man was supposed to report to the induction center, hear explanations about the options available to him, and view explanatory films about the special tracks open to Haredim in the army and in the National Civilian Service. Agmon, who came up with the idea of the special induction centers for Haredi men, announced that every young man who wished to do so would be allowed to sign the deferment forms right away, without having to be exposed to any orientation whatsoever. MK Shaked confirmed this.
An official of the IDF Spokesman's Office said the army would “obey the government’s decisions for the draft of Haredim according to the scope decided upon, while engaging in a dialogue that would allow the Haredi community’s unique needs to be met. According to law, those who defined themselves as engaging in Torah study as their main activity would be summoned to enable them to be drafted or defer their service. The claims that the induction center for Haredim is going to implement the draft processes by force are not true.”
In the meantime, Ya’akov Yisrael Paz, the yeshiva student from Ashdod who belongs to the movement that obeys the hard-line Lithuanian Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, continues to serve his sentence in Military Prison 6 for failure to report to the induction center. After rallies for his release were held throughout the country, last Saturday night there was another demonstration outside the prison during which tents were put up and the establishment of a yeshiva at the site was announced.