Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews protest against the new army recruitment law, in Jerusalem. EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN


Israel to recruit ultra-Orthodox individuals for armed forces from August


An Israeli court has ordered that military recruitment from the country’s ultra-Orthodox population can go ahead, spurring an angry response from the sector.

Following an Israeli court ruling, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant announced on July 9 that recruitment of ultra-Orthodox individuals for Israel’s armed forces will begin in August.

The ultra-Orthodox population fear that sending their young men to join the Israeli Defence Forces will mean those individuals will lose their ultra-religious customs and traditions and abandon their community.

In a statement, the defence ministry said Gallant approved the orders after a meeting with Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi and several other senior military officials.

Gallant also concluded that “an information campaign aimed at the ultra-Orthodox population will be launched over the next month”.

ARCHIVE IMAGE: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (L) address a press conference in The Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, 28 October 2023. EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN / POOL

The measure will be implemented after “the Supreme Court annulled the exemption for this population sector last June … after a significant process of refining existing data on potential recruits”, according to The Times of Israel.

Gallant and Halevi argued during the meeting that the recruitment of the ultra-Orthodox was “an operational necessity” and “a complex social issue” that required these individuals to be able to “maintain their lifestyle” once they joined the armed forces.

The Israeli Government does not specify how many of the approximately 63,000 ultra-Orthodox military-age youths will receive conscription orders but the military already warned that by 2024 it will only be able to conscript 3,000 individuals.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have special requirements in areas such as diet and cohabitation with the opposite sex and the army would have to accommodate such new recruits in special battalions.

Since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, young men in ultra-Orthodox communities were exempted from military service, which is compulsory for a large part of Israeli society.

Israeli Arabs are also not required to undertake military service.