Ultra-Orthodox MK urges IDF to recruit more soldiers

The issue of the ultra-Orthodox community and the draft has been a contentious one for years, with controversial draft exemption proposed just before the current war. 

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Ultra-Orthodox MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) said Thursday that the IDF should recruit more troops “to fulfill its missions” and support military operations.

The MK’s statement comes a day after the Defense Minister indicated it would draft 1,300 additional troops in March, a month earlier than the original proposal.

Porush served in the IDF after leaving yeshiva, and has in the past voiced support for the IDF drafting ultra-Orthodox men who are not learning in yeshiva.

The draft in March will include 850 from pre-army and community service programs and 450 will arrive to the army from yeshivas that emphasize the combination of Torah study and military service.

The original proposal had the number from yeshivas at only 150 until parents and the heads of the program protested that a disproportionate burden was being placed on non-yeshiva draftees.

According to the proposal, those who are going to be drafted will finish their training program in June, and those who are in the second year of the program will be priority to be called ahead of those in their first year.

According to an IDF statement, the reason for the early recruitment “is to strengthen combat units in light of the needs of battle… against the backdrop of the war, the turnover of casualties and the necessity to fill the ranks and expand combat forces.”

The issue of the ultra-Orthodox community and the draft has been a contentious one for years, with controversial legislation proposed as recently as a a few days before the beginning of the war.

Just prior to October, Netanyahu promised to immediately pass legislation which would enshrine draft deferments for yeshiva students in Israel’s Basic Law, as part of an agreement ensuring the participation of ultra-Orthodox political parties in the right-wing coalition.

The proposal was wildly unpopular among voters from Netanyahu’s Likud party, and many Religious Zionists – who make up the second largest party in the current coalition – are also opposed to such a move.