New IDF draft bill draws criticism from politicians for its lack of Orthodox recruitment

The bill calls for an extension of mandatory service from 32 months to three years, as well as increasing reservist age.

By Troy O. Fritzhand, The Algemeiner

The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, sought to introduce changes to military conscription law to increase the service duty of all reservists, eliciting fierce backlash from across the political spectrum. Opposition to the bill, introduced by Israel’s ruling Likud party, highlighted that the proposed law does not address the lack of recruitment of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, who generally are not drafted into the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

“Hundreds of IDF soldiers fell in the war. Thousands were injured,” said MK Hili Tropper, a member of War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz National Unity party. “And against the background of the intention to put another burden on the shoulders of the servants, the truth must be told: the fallen do not come from all sectors. Indeed, many in the ultra-Orthodox sector volunteer, study, pray in memory of the fallen, visit the wounded and that is blessed, but they do not share in the burden of the service. These things are not said to divide, God forbid, and it is absolutely not from hatred of ultra-Orthodox. It’s for the love of Israel,” he continued.

The new changes call for an extension of mandatory service from 32 months to three years, as well as increasing the age that reservists must serve. The bill does not, as mentioned, discuss the issue of ultra-Orthodox conscription, despite many calls prior to include it.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called on the ultra-Orthodox to enlist, saying:

“The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is in charge the police, tweeted, “Come and join the police. This is the order of the hour!”

MK Tali Gottlieb from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party added, “I said that even before the war, and certainly now, I will not vote for the conscription law that leaves exemption from conscription intact. And not just me. Equality in the burden is at the basis of our existence. Wartime in Israel. [Obligatory] war. Everyone is enlisting. We will all sit together, left, right, religious and secular, and come to an agreed upon law. Together we fight, together we win and together we volunteer. Everyone is in service.”

The leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties and their religious leaders have yet to chime in on the proposed law.

Read  Israeli politicians unite in condemning proposed US sanctions against IDF unit