Ultra-Orthodox men must be drafted into army, rules Israel’s Supreme Court

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Ultra-Orthodox men must be drafted into army, rules Israel’s Supreme Court

Judges ruled 9-0 that Haredi men can no longer be exempted from IDF service

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

Charedi Jews being targeted with water cannons in Jerusalem during a protest
Charedi Jews being targeted with water cannons in Jerusalem during a protest

Israel’s High Court has unanimously ruled ultra-Orthodox men must be drafted into the military, in a decision that threatens to further inflame political and social divisions.

The move, which was approved 9-0 on Tuesday, prompted anger from ultra-Orthodox politicians, with one defiantly vowing, “there is no power in the world that can cut off the people of Israel from studying the Torah.

An estimated 67,000 Haredi males living in Israel are eligible for the draft.

According to the ruling, the Government can no longer instruct the IDF and Defence Ministry to exempt Haredi men from IDF service.

Financial support for yeshiva students studying in lieu of military service will cease following the High Court decision.

The details of exactly how the ruling will be enforced or how many ultra-Orthodox students need to be drafted has yet to be revealed.

Haredi political parties were swift to voice their dismay at the ruling and are demanding blanket draft exemptions are reinstated.

Shas party chair Arye Dery, who formerly called the legislation “a mark of Cain and unprecedented bullying of Torah students in the Jewish state,” vowed to defy the ruling.

Posting on Telegram, he said the Torah is Israel’s “secret weapon against all enemies” and that any attempt to stop Jewish people studying it would “fail miserably.”

He wrote: “The Jewish people survived persecutions, pogroms and wars only thanks to maintaining their uniqueness, the Torah and the commandments

“No high-handed ruling will abolish the community of scholars in the land of Israel, which is the branch on which we all sit.”

Meanwhile, United Torah Judaism chairman and Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf called the decision “expected and very unfortunate.”

He posted on X: “The State of Israel was established in order to be a home for the Jewish people whose Torah is the bedrock of its existence. The Holy Torah will prevail.”

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Meir Porush said the ruling “inevitably leads to two states”.

Elaborating further, he said “One run like the current state and one in which yeshiva students will continue to learn like they did in the state Ben Gurion declared.”

However, across the political spectrum there was much support for the ruling, which overturns the decades-long “status-quo” agreement exempting ultra-orthodox boys and girls from the army.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said the days of “discrimination between blood and blood is over.”

On a statement on X he said: “The days are over when there are those who shout “we will die and not enlist” and those who die because they did enlist. Discrimination between blood and blood is over. We are at war on seven fronts, the IDF does not have enough soldiers. If we do not fight together, we will die together.”

Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman called the ruling “a significant step on the way to historical change” and posted on X: “In a year where a whole brigade of soldiers was lost or badly injured, in a year where reservists served for over 200 days, there is no clearer proof that the IDF needs more recruits, more people to share the load.”

Labor Party chief Yair Golan said called the ruling “a just decision”.

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