Israel: Conscription exemption for ultra-Orthodox expires

As of: April 1, 2024 12:15 a.m

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel have not previously had to do military service – but this regulation has now expired. However, it is not expected that the army will immediately send out thousands of muster notices.

Exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men from compulsory military service in Israel that have existed for decades expired at midnight. From Monday onwards, according to an interim order from the Supreme Court, state subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men of military age who study in religious schools will be canceled.

According to a decision by Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, the military is also obliged to immediately draft in religious students who have previously been largely exempt. According to media reports, there are more than 60,000 men. However, the military is not expected to immediately send them muster notices, even though the army has reportedly been short of soldiers since the start of the Gaza war.

Stress test for Netanyahu government

The regulation comes into force because the government of right-wing conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to pass a law that would cement the relief. The dispute over compulsory military service, which has been simmering for decades, has recently escalated dramatically and, according to observers, could endanger Netanyahu’s coalition in the medium term. This is also based on strictly religious partners who strictly reject the drafting of young men from their community.

The regulation will expire in 2023

A law allowing most ultra-Orthodox men not to serve in the army expired last year. The government then extended the regulation until the end of March. Critics denounced the current relief measures as unfair. The Gaza war has further deepened the gap between the camps. The government coalition had already broken up in 2018 due to the dispute over a law that would gradually require more strictly religious men to serve as weapons. But there are also ultra-Orthodox men who serve voluntarily. Strictly religious women are only recruited on a voluntary basis.

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