IDF Chief: Israel Must Find a Way to Enlist More Haredi Soldiers

In special Israel Independence Day interview with Haaretz, Benny Gantz says state should work to include ultra-Orthodox conscripts in more effective ways.

The Israel Defense Force can take in more ultra-Orthodox soldiers and must finds a way to do so, army chief Benny Gantz told Haaretz in a special Independence Day interview, referring to an expected change in Israel's enlistment laws after the Supreme Court ruled the existing legislation unconstitutional.

When asked about the possible ramifications of the annulment of the so-called Tal Law, Gantz said: "That's a question for the politicians to decide. What I'm looking for is equality in service."

Benny Gantz - Daniel Bar-On - 13.12.2011

The IDF chief said hopes should be kept down as to the immediate consequences of a change in enlistment laws, adding: "Don't expect me to open two more elite infantry brigades tomorrow morning."

"But I think we need to see how we expand the extent of [Haredi] service and open more tracks," Gantz said, adding that the state should prioritize "more alternatives" for more effective ways in which Haredi soldiers could be used, beyond exclusively ultra-Orthodox units.

Gantz added that he recognized a desire, both among the Haredi community and greater Israeli society, to incorporate ultra-Orthodox soldiers into the IDF and national service tracks, so that they could "be involved."

"I'm not a missionary organization. Not a single Haredi soldier will be discharged secular," he added.

Tal Law -Moti Milrod - 23022012
Moti Milrod

According to Gantz, a desirable arrangement would give the IDF first pick at choosing candidates to be enlisted to its ranks, with those the army doesn't see a need to enlist redirected to national or civilian service.

The decision on how to run a new model, he emphasized, must be made on the political level, and not by the IDF. "They can seek advice from us about the way in which things can be done, [things] which the political level wants done," he said.

The full interview with the IDF chief will be released in Haaretz's special Independence Day edition.