Ultra-Orthodox Jews must be forced to do military service

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Published 11 July 2024 at 16.24

Foreign. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has approved a plan to begin conscripting ultra-Orthodox Jews into military service, according to Defense Ministry information cited by local media. Until now, this religious group has been exempt from serving in the Israel Defense Forces, the IDF.

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The announcement comes two weeks after a groundbreaking decision by Israel's Supreme Court which determined that there is no legal basis for ultra-orthodox Jews to be exempt from conscription.

The ultra-orthodox have largely been able to avoid mandatory military service ever since Israel's founding in 1948.

Supreme Court not only voided the exemption granted 76 years ago to ultra-Orthodox Jews, but also ordered Israeli authorities to stop funding religious schools, known as yeshivas, whose students avoid conscription.

The ruling came amid growing irritation among secular Israelis as the war in Gaza enters its tenth month and Israel faces personnel shortages. Earlier this month, Gallant said the IDF needed about 10,000 new soldiers.

In Israel, military service is mandatory for most citizens – both men and women – who usually start serving at age 18. Israelis must spend 24-32 months in the IDF during their service.