Ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF soars after Hamas massacres

From 1,200 new recruits a year to over 2,000 in two weeks, ultra-Orthodox enlistment numbers spike.

By World Israel News Staff

More than 2,000 ultra-Orthodox men have enlisted in the IDF in the two weeks since the October 7th massacres in southwestern Israel.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the chief IDF spokesman, said Saturday evening that the army has been inundated with requests from ultra-Orthodox men to serve.

“Since the start of the war, we have been witness to volunteering from every sector of Israeli society,” Hagari told reporters.

“We are witness to an increasing trend of ultra-Orthodox men who file requests to enlist and volunteer in the IDF.”

Given the dramatic surge in interest in enlistment in the ultra-Orthodox community, Hagari continued, the IDF is preparing to launch a new program to accommodate the wave of religious enlistment.

“Thus far we have received over 2,000 requests from people from the ultra-Orthodox sector. We are creating a dedicated program, and beginning on Monday, they will start enlisting.”

Approximately 120 ultra-Orthodox men are slated to be inducted into the IDF this week, beyond the over 2,000 who have requested to enlist.

In all of 2022, a total of 1,200 ultra-Orthodox men enlisted in the IDF – roughly half the number who have requested to join in the last two weeks.

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up roughly 12% of Israel’s population, have for decades largely refrained from military service.

Religious Jewish women, like Arab and Druze women, are automatically exempt from military service.

Full-time yeshiva students, while not exempt, are able to secure yearly service deferments, which can be extended annually until the age of exemption, effectively providing a path for most ultra-Orthodox men to avoid mandatory service.

For the past two decades, the IDF has worked to encourage ultra-Orthodox enlistment, forming the Netzach Yehuda Battalion, also known as Nahal Haredi – a battalion within the Kfir Brigade that offers an ultra-Orthodox environment for religious soldiers.